Stefan Ytterborn is founder and CEO of CAKE, the inspiring maker of zero-emission electric motorcycles from Sweden. Culturelines caught up with Stefan and he dropped some science about his latest thinking, what gets him excited, and how he defines “premium.”
Sustainability, the future and the potential of the electric drivetrain to expand space.
SY: “One of the things that I get stoked about with the electric drivetrain is the ability to share space out there with wildlife and fellow mushroom pickers and whomever, in some kind of a mutual respect, and without disturbing or polluting. It’s such a nice addition to how we interact with each other and in the space we shar
Our whole journey is about making the product with a focus on zero emissions, and we also need to be viable enough as an entity to continue exploring, developing and leading our category as we define it.
We started with the goal of combining excitement and responsibility with the kalk platform which is much more similar to a trail/enduro style of bike, but we have been evolving quickly.
If you had asked me two years ago what our next platform would be, a mix between a motorized vehicle and a Swiss Army knife, I didn’t have the product in mind, but that is what we are introducing now.
The ösa is all about utility and getting to the line of action. Whether that be getting to the beach for surfing or going out fly fishing or bringing your climbing gear to go bouldering.
It’s electric so you charge it back home. And it’s modular - you build it according to whatever your transportation needs are, and the powerful battery means you can bring your friends for movie night in the woods or hosting a party in the forest powered by the bike’s battery.
And that’s something that touches on the situation that we’re in, whether it’s political or social distancing. It’s the ability to expand space, support independence, be off the grid, and expand the potential of what you can do with something that was considered just two wheels and a motor taking you from point A to point B.
We knew that our motorbikes would be used for commuting. But down the line I’m sure we’ll be addressing people who will be in the outback and backcountry space. We build our competence from performance and the knowledge of what needs to be done, in conjunction with the rider, and the technical aspects of the electrical drivetrain.
So it’s really interesting to investigate how a vessel, a tool - whatever you want to call it - could change in terms of actual behavior, but also as a conceptual philosophy.”
©Harry Burt 2022
First, premium needs to be purposeful...premium has to bring innovation whereas luxury does not.
SY: “I want to be humble about this because premium as a description has been around forever, but I feel, has been used in a sloppy way. I’m reusing the concept and defining premium in a way that makes sense to me and has substance when it comes to supporting our obligations and the need for sustainability.
For the past couple of years I’ve been really excited about this, and it’s a connecting thread through everything I’ve been doing: how people define premium, as well as premium vs. luxury. And this is a golden type of insight that I love sharing with people who are looking at adding new products to the market, which is already drowning in products.
When I define premium it needs to have purpose. Luxury never needs to have purpose. It’s just something which is expensive, and it’s far from being purposeful.
So first, premium needs to be purposeful.
The second thing is that premium has to bring innovation, whereas luxury does not.
It also needs to have a level of performance. So whether it’s a fabric that breathes better or a pair of sneakers that will make you run faster or reduce the risk of being injured, innovation is crucial to being defined as premium.
And the last thing is establishing a certain level of quality.
These four things - purpose, innovation, performance and quality - embraced by deliberate design through the process of making decisions and bringing these four elements together - to me that is what the definition of premium is all about.”