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Damon Motors raises US$30m as it preps production of new electric motorbikes

Vancouver firm intends to launch full-scale production in 2022
Damon Motors co-founders Dom Kwong, left, and Jay Giraud | submitted

Instead of a kickstand, Damon Motors Inc. is now leaning on US$30 million in fresh capital.

The Vancouver-based electric motorbike company confirmed Wednesday the close of a bridge round to oil its wheels in the coming years as it seeks to launch full-scale manufacturing of its new vehicles. 

Damon got its start in 2017 developing collision safety technology for motorcycles that tap into the depreciating cost of high-end sensors and cameras.

Among the first buyers was the West Vancouver Police Department, which had its own fleet of motorbikes retrofitted with Damon’s technology.

If, for example, a rider has to turn their head to check a blind spot when changing lanes, the sensors will send vibrations to the handlebars to alert them if there’s any danger.

Small cameras in the back of the bike provide the rear-view-mirror angle riders previously didn’t have access to.

But now instead of retrofitting existing motorcycles with these systems, Damon is joining the likes of Vancouver companies such as ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. (Nasdaq:SOLO) and GreenPower Motor Co. Inc. by becoming a manufacturer of electric vehicles.

The first motorcycles equipped with the AI-powered collision systems are expected to go into full-scale production next year.

“Every successful startup, to no small extent, is a product of timing,” CEO and co-founder Jay Giraud told BIVin 2019.

“We have that convergence of the maturity of these technologies to come together, and on top of that Damon uses AI both on the bike and in the cloud so that our motorcycles can learn from each and every incident that they see.”

That play for data will also become increasingly valuable, with Giraud describing the system as a black box that can help determine what happened in an accident.

“Cars have forward collision systems, and they have blind-spot detection systems,” said Giraud, who launched his third vehicle-related startup in 2017 after departing Inc.

“On motorbikes it’s totally non-existent, which seems really strange. Motorcyclists otherwise have to rely on the awareness of the drivers, and the No. 1 thing that drivers say when they hit a motorcyclist is ‘I just didn’t see the bike.’”

So far pre-sales of the new motorbikes capable of travelling more than 320 kilometres per charge have netted Damon US$20 million.

Prices range from US$17,000-40,000, depending on the model.

The bridge round was led by Benevolent Capital Partners LLC, SOL Global Investments Corp. and Zirmania Investments Ltd.

Damon plans to use the capital to cover the cost of demo tours, its pre-production development and testing, as well as boosting its headcount.

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