Joel Chang Charged
In this article

[Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect statement from James Chan, CEO of ION Mobility.]

In Southeast Asia, combustion motorcycles have long been the go-to mode of transportation, offering convenience and affordability to millions.

However, this reliance on gasoline-powered vehicles comes at a grave cost — soaring air pollution levels that endanger public health and contribute to environmental degradation.

Charged electric motorcycle Indonesia factory
Charged’s factory at Cikupa, Indonesia / Image Credit: Charged

In a bid to reshape the mobility landscape and combat air pollution, Joel Chang founded Charged, an electric motorcycle startup that is headquartered in Singapore, with offices and production facilities based in Indonesia.

Third time’s the charm

Joel has long dabbled in the automotive and electric vehicle (EV) industry. The 45-year-old served as the CEO of BMW Dealer Group for 13 years, before leaving his role to join Singapore’s first electric motorcycle company, Scorpio Electric, as its Chief Operating Officer.

The entrepreneur eventually left Scorpio Electric in September 2019, as his two-year contract with the company was coming to an end. Eurosports Technologies, his then-employer (and the parent company of Scorpio Electric), declined to extend his employment contract.

He then went on to found sustainable tech-automative startup, ION Mobility a month later, alongside fellow co-founder James Chan.

Joel Chang James Chan Ion Mobility
Joel Chang (left) and James Chan (right) founded ION Mobility together / Image Credit: Digital News Asia

Unfortunately, things turned sour between the two not too long later. James fired Joel in March 2021 and filed a temporary injunction against him, which prevented Joel from being directly or indirectly involved in any capacity in a business in Southeast Asia that competes with ION Mobility. 

Although Joel did not disclose much details, he mentioned that the injunction was lifted shortly after its imposition. He further emphasised that he now ensures none of his team members are subjected to “non-compete clauses in their employment contracts”.

According to James however, Joel had agreed to a contractually binding non-compete clause and was compensated for it in their first settlement agreement. James believed that Joel had breached the agreement and acted in bad faith, which was why ION Mobility filed the injunction against him.

The court ruled in the company’s favour, granting ION Mobility a full injunction victory. The company has now “inked a second settlement agreement, without an admission of liability from [Joel] and with terms that remain wrapped in confidentiality”.

He invested S$500,000 to start Charged

In December 2022, Joel, together with corporate and commercial lawyer Soh Chun Bin, invested about S$500,000 to get the green-mobility startup off the ground.

Charged electric motorcycle
Charged’s range of electric motorcycles / Image Credit: Charged

The startup launched with three electric motorcycle models January this year, catering to different market segments, including the B2C (business-to-consumer), B2G (business-to-government) and B2B (business-to-business) segments.

[Although] it’s not usual for a startup to launch three models at the start, that’s what we did as we wanted to cater to as wide an audience in B2C, B2G and B2B to learn, adapt and grow [our business] faster.

– Joel Chang, CEO and co-founder, Charged

Among the lineup, Charged’s first electric motorcycle model, named Rimau, focuses primarily on efficient commuting with a pillion rider.

Meanwhile, Anoa, its second model, is specifically designed for logistics deliveries. With a top speed of 90km/hour and a maximum range of 200km, it ensures optimal performance for delivery purposes.

Charged Anoa
Charged’s Anoa bike/ Image Credit: Charged

Lastly, Maleo offers versatility, catering to both commuting with a pillion rider and light deliveries. These electric motorcycles are assembled in their solar-powered factory in Cikupa, Indonesia, with a production capacity of 200,000 units per year.

Charged offers vehicle subscription services

What sets Charged’s electric motorcycles apart is their innovative vehicle subscription services. Through this, its users can conveniently rent their bikes, without worrying about maintenance fees or long-term commitments.

For those looking to eventually own their Charged bike, the company also offers rentals for a fixed period of time.

ways to own charged's bikes
Image Credit: Charged

However, implementing this approach was not without its challenges for Joel and his team. Launching in Indonesia, they faced discouragement from many who believed that a subscription model would be nearly impossible to sustain in the country.

Most [companies] would just try to sell their vehicles and tell you [that a] subscription [model] is almost impossible as there are too many risks in Indonesia. And their conventional wisdom is sound.

– Joel Chang, CEO and co-founder, Charged

Despite the discouragement from naysayers, Charged’s subscription model has proven to be quite successful. Within just two months of its launch, the company has already garnered 1,000 subscription sign-ups.

Its user base today largely comprises ride-hailing and food delivery riders, who would rather rent their motorcycles as opposed to buying their own.

Our customers delighted us especially with their enthusiasm, so much so that the demand for our [electric motorcycle] subscription is overwhelming. We are [also] ramping up our production to serve the demand. 

– Joel Chang, CEO and co-founder, Charged

Charged will begin deliveries to Singapore in 2024

Since its launch in 2022, the company has managed to raise a total of US$9 million. Joel aims for the company to achieve profitability by the end of this year.

Although Indonesia currently represents its largest market, Charged is actively pursuing expansion opportunities across various regions in Southeast Asia. In line with this, it will be launching in both Malaysia and Vietnam later this year.

Charged electric motorcycle factory Indonesia
Charged’s employees assembling an electric motorcycle at a factory in Indonesia/ Image Credit: Joel Chang

Charged is also preparing for a launch in Singapore during the first quarter of 2024. However, its approach in Singapore would be slightly different as the company aims to target delivery and logistics providers instead of consumers.

This is because Joel anticipates a shift towards public transport system among commuters, given the high cost of vehicle ownership and taxes in Singapore.

On the flip side, delivery and logistics riders who are unable to utilise public transport would be forced to reduce their vehicle costs and transition towards EVs, providing an opportunity for Charged to capture the market share in Singapore.

Aside from this, the green-mobility company is also planning to increase its product range by launching three more vehicles by the end of this year.

By expanding into these markets, Joel hopes for Charged to lead the transition towards electric vehicles across Southeast Asia. In 10 years, the entrepreneur hopes to produce 10 million EVs, contributing towards sustainability and mobility for better air, health and livelihoods across the region.

Featured Image Credit: Joel Chang

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)