Zwift Acquires UK-Based eDrive Engineering Services

Zwift Acquires UK-Based eDrive Engineering Services

We’ve known that Zwift was getting into the hardware side of things since November 2019, when job listings surfaced for a new Zwift “FitTech” division in Surrey, UK. Since that time there has been much speculation about what Zwift is working to create. Everyone seems to agree that a new smart bike is in the works, but recent sleuthing showed Zwift is working on not just one, but three hardware products.

Zwift has been very hush-hush about all things FitTech, but they are clearly moving full steam ahead on the hardware front, with operations based in London. Their careers page currently lists 9 open positions in the “Connected Products” category, all based in London:

  • Embedded Software Engineer
  • Embedded Software Engineer (Mid level)
  • Hardware UX Designer
  • Lead Mechanical Design Engineer
  • Manager; Electronics Engineering
  • Mechanical Design Engineer
  • Mechanical Technician
  • R&D Design Manager, Mechanical/Product Design
  • Systems Electronics Design Director

The most recently-posted job on that list is “Systems Electronics Design Director” and the opening paragraph of that job description states:

The Director of System Engineering role is a new position within the Fitness Hardware division. The team primarily builds electrical and mechanical systems, as such the Director of System Engineering needs to have significant experience with consumer electronics, managing electronics and firmware engineers, and to have experience with system architecture. The director will manage a team of approximately 10 Engineers, Electrical, firmware, App Developers and Test Engineers.

This paragraph says a lot. It confirms that the FitTech team “primarily builds electrical and mechanical systems”. It tells us the team currently has ~10 members. And the job listing went live on March 15, 2021 – so Zwift is actively hiring in this space.

Which brings us to today’s big news…

Zwift Acquires eDrive Engineering Services Ltd

Based on public corporate filings posted in recent days, it appears that Zwift has acquired UK-based eDrive Engineering Services. The following documents were all posted on March 22nd:

  • Updated Memorandum of Association and Articles of Association states 3(2): Zwift shall from time to time have the right for so long as it is the majority shareholder by notice in writing addressed to the Company, to appoint, maintain in office and remove, one or more persons to be director or directors of the Company and to remove any directors from time to time.
  • Appointment details doc shows Zwift CEO Eric Min as accepting the position of director at eDrive
  • Three separate documents indicate the three prior directors are no longer in positions of significant control
  • Registered address change from The Mill Rectory Farm Mews, Elton to 6th Floor 2 London Wall Place Barbican, London. Is this the location of Zwift’s FitTech division?

eDrive originally incorporated in September 2016 with the following directors:

  • Mark Cordner, Managing Director
  • Adam Malloy, Chief Engineer
  • Till Hanten, Engineer

Based on the documents linked above and a bit of LinkedIn research, it appears that Mark and Adam started Drive after working together at GKN Automotive. They appear to be remaining on as directors (or at least employees), while Till is no longer a director and possibly no longer with the company.

So what does eDrive do?

Our expert team of engineers draws on decades of experience and a track-record of delivering world-class electrical machine (eMachine) and electric drive (eDrive) solutions to leading Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers.

The team has worked on eMachine development and application projects for the automotive, off-highway, marine, industrial, aerospace and motorsport sectors.

So they are focused on developing electric motors, mostly for motor vehicle applications. But this sort of hardware and experience carries over nicely into the sorts of motors required for – you guessed it – smart trainers.

In fact, at least one smart bike manufacturer we’ve spoken with sources their circuit boards and motors from an electric car company, because smaller motors didn’t have the muscle needed to properly simulate a flywheel affect.

Additionally, eDrive’s list of services includes several items which would come in handy for FitTech’s nimble R&D needs:

  • We assemble small batches of eMachines for prototype evaluation, mule vehicle tests and niche applications.
  • Our established supply-chain and in-house assembly capability allows us to deliver custom-designed products very quickly, accelerating our customers’ development programmes and allowing them to evaluate representative hardware in record time.

Conclusion

It’s already been said, but it’s worth saying again – if Zwift wants to bring quality hardware to market quickly, acquisitions will be essential. Those acquisitions certainly include experienced employees already in the relevant industries. It may also mean purchasing the rights to patented hardware. And of course, given today’s news, Zwift is clearly willing to acquire a small, nimble company like eDrive whose existing experience and connections can help Zwift get hardware to market more quickly.

Your Thoughts

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About The Author

Eric Schlange

Eric runs Zwift Insider in his spare time when he isn't on the bike or managing various business interests. He lives in Northern California with his beautiful wife, two kids and dog. Follow on Strava

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Nuno Pinto
Nuno Pinto
17 days ago

“world domination”…the biggest question is how ZWIFT will take care of other “hardware partners” when it starts to eat from the same plate…trainers and smart bikes

Darren
Darren
17 days ago
Reply to  Nuno Pinto

Indeed. However, I am much more committed to my existing $1000 smart trainer than I am to Zwift.

Ziizii
Ziizii
17 days ago
Reply to  Darren

“more committed to my existing $1000 smart trainer than I am to Zwift”. And maybe that pretty much sums up why Zwift wants to get into the hardware business? Personally I whish Zwift would focus more on their software platform though, and collaborate with existing hardware vendors. Maybe a create a “Made for Zwift” endorsement/certification program…

swarmster
swarmster
17 days ago
Reply to  Nuno Pinto

I’m not sure it’s a zero-sum game. But even if it is and Zwift hardware starts taking significant market share, I’m not sure that puts Zwift in a position of having to prop up third parties in some way. Looking at the Peloton model, there are plenty of spin bikes that advertise support for their platform, and I don’t think Peloton bends to them. You can pretty much guarantee that someone using your smart bike to connect to your platform is a cheaper customer to support and retain, so why be hesitant to step on toes? (Especially if you can… Read more »

GCook
GCook
17 days ago

Think the address in London listed for e-Drive will be for their registered office address – not necessarily a “trading” address. It also looks to be a firm of accountants – pretty standard in UK to use your accountants office for the registered office

ShakeNBakeUK
ShakeNBakeUK (@bakeuk)
17 days ago

damn, if only I had studied engineering XD

johnodenver
johnodenver
17 days ago

I’m all in favor of Zwift building their own smart trainer especially if it is a full trainer that is fully adjustable and does not require one to use their own bike etc. because I think this space needs more choices. What I wouldn’t be interested in though is a product that is locked into the Zwift ecosystem as the Peleton bike is with their service. Honestly I like a little variety in my training apps 😀

Alex
Alex
17 days ago

“they are clearly moving full steam ahead on the hardware front”

For comparison: Between software and hardware, Peloton has 130 open positions right now with another 108 open positions in EIT. (Among over 750 total openings)

ShermanO
ShermanO
17 days ago

All I want to see them hiring for is user interface and user experience engineers. I was baffled for quite some time when I first started using the platform on Apple TV, thinking that I must be doing something wrong or the program was crashing with the return to the start screen. No, that was actually the intended experience….

Aoi Niigaki
Aoi Niigaki
17 days ago

At least one year, maybe two years before we see anything hardware from Zwift? If you’re only just now hiring your lead mechanical design engineer then either the person in the job previously has just left or they’re only starting to ramp things up now and it’s still a long way.

Jessica Hamilton
Jessica Hamilton
17 days ago

I think there are more important things for Zwift to work and spend on. And partner with existing companies for tech improvement

Randy Hermann
Randy Hermann
17 days ago

I agree completely. The software still has room for improvement and the option to create a IRL version with accurate physics.

Jokes
Jokes
17 days ago

Bu..bu..but Brexit. This can’t be happening! #fbpe 😚

Eddy Raptor
Eddy Raptor
16 days ago

I wish instead of creating a smart trainer or bike to compete with their existing third party partners, Zwift would instead invest in creating a dedicated set top box that easily connects a trainer to a TV. That is where I see the greatest opportunity to reduce user friction. Imagine a dedicated Apple TV like device with ample connections to support all the devices cyclists use, enhanced graphics and instant on Zwift. A lot of people don’t want to fiddle with settings, connections and operating systems- they just want to turn on a ‘Zwift box’ and start riding.

Nakoosa
Nakoosa
16 days ago

This is good for innovation and competition just as long as zwift keeps to standards based interfaces and doesn’t try to make a proprietary hardware/software stack to lock in customers. That would be the death of the platform.

Wally
Wally
16 days ago
Reply to  Nakoosa

Zwift surely does not plan to develop its own hardware just for the sake of joining the highly competitive, low margin, trainer market. Their only motivation is to consolidate their already problematic monopolistic position in the virtual cycling world. It won’t be the death of the platform, but it will be the death of proper progress in anything e-cycling related – basically what we are already witnessing now. If you think this is exaggerated, consider Zwift’s biggest and most applauded innovation this year was the ability to return to the start menu without quitting and restarting the program 🙂 Zwift… Read more »

Paul Rayner
Paul Rayner (@paulrayner)
15 days ago

Whenever Zwift talks about tech, many people focus on cycling (and occasionally running) but I’d bet good money the first 3 machines Zwift is working on are:
1) Zwift Bike
2) Zwift Treadmill
3) Zwift Rowing Machine.

If there was a 4th, I’d suggest maybe a cross-trainer, because that could be the next most likely sport to be added after rowing.

I think Eric Min’s vision is for Zwift to dominate virtual sports – not just virtual cycling.

Adam Taylor
Adam Taylor
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul Rayner

Yeah the rowing machine for sure imagine how cool it would be to be in a crew synchronising with feedback from the machine.

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