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5 questions for
Zoltán Sipos

We speak to Zoltán Sipos, The CEO of Electrobus Europe, about the return of the Ikarus brand to the German market, the future development of electric mobility and an upcoming telemetry project.

Zoltán Sipos, CEO of Electrobus Europe
Zoltán Sipos, CEO of Electrobus Europe

Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming CEO of Electrobus Europe.

I'm an economist by profession, but somehow in my career I've always worked in manufacturing companies, whether it's mass production or a one-off, project-based operation. This has given me the opportunity to learn about many technological processes, materials and corporate environments, while becoming a leader and holding key positions in various industries. IKARUS attracted me as a big name, even though I had not worked in the automotive industry before. Despite this, my year and a half here has brought me a lot of experience, new contacts and success. In a good community, with a stable ownership background and ambitious goals, we are working for IKARUS' success in the market. My company, Electrobus Europe, is part of the Ikarus Group and is responsible for sales and after-sales service.

After a 20-year hiatus, Ikarus is making a successful return to Germany, where the majority of electric buses in the European Union entered service in 2022. Please explain what role Electrobus Europe plays in this?

Electrobus Europe will launch the sales process through published tenders, contact and cultivate potential partners and introduce the latest Ikarus models to the German market through demonstration buses. In addition, a service network, which is essential also for the German market, is being set up. Trasco-Bremen can be relied on as a contracted representative for this professional and market work. The return of the Ikarus to the German market has aroused great interest, and in view of this, as of this year, two demo buses will be available to our customers there.

You represent a brand with a long tradition. How do you assess the chances of taking a leading role in the international and German market as well? How important are further partnerships in this context?

As illustrious as Ikarus' past is, we have to be realistic about today's market situation. Fundamental technological changes have also taken place in public transport over the last ten years, while new players have taken the place of Ikarus, which has temporarily been eliminated from the market. We must therefore proceed with caution when we return to the market, and only with the right market and product strategy can we regain market share in the long term. Local partnerships with trade associations, the media, financiers, and supplier partners are an excellent way of thinking about this. Without them, a good part of the market would not be understood and accessible.

The shift to sustainable, especially electric, drives has gained enormous momentum in Europe. How well do you see the Hungarian bus industry and Ikarus positioned in this context?

I agree with the statement that the change has begun and further support will only strengthen this process. Most of the industry is still learning how to use the new drive chains effectively, and this is reflected in rethinking practices, looking for optimization opportunities and starting to build infrastructure. In almost all areas, there are great potentials and challenges ahead. Personally, I would expect a paradigm shift from the EU decision-makers, subsidies are very important for the protection of our environment, but experience shows that it is not enough to partly finance the replacement of bus fleets if there is no attention and resources for infrastructure. Ikarus and the Hungarian bus industry are currently at a disadvantage, there are competitors ahead of us in all the so-called environmentally friendly drive chains, but I see an opportunity to turn this initial disadvantage into an advantage. I base this partly on the fact that we have good strategic allies with whom we can further develop the technology, and partly on the fact that Ikarus has huge potential to succeed on the world market.

Hydrogen and autonomous drives as well as modern telematics are influencing smart city concepts and vice versa? Is Electrobus Europe/Ikarus already involved in such projects?

We don't have any open projects in autonomous drive at the moment, but we are interested in both the hydrogen powertrain and the higher-level use of telemetry, and we are actively pursuing these development issues. In the case of telemetry, we are focusing on predictive forecasting, which we aim to present to the markets as a ready-to-use solution as early as this autumn. And for the hydrogen powertrain, we are working with the manufacturers who have pioneered this technology, for mutual benefit.

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