Elforest takes the next step – together with a strong partner

Thanks to its unique electric systems, Elforest Technologies from Örnsköldsvik has made an impression in the cleantech field. With the international actor Axel Johnson Group as an investor, the plans are big.

- In ten years’ time, we hope to be several times bigger than we are today, says CEO Gabriel Söderholm.

In April, it became official that Axel Johnson International's business area Driveline Solutions joined as an investor in Elforest. As a result, Axel Johnson strengthens its position on the market for driveline solutions.

- It is fully in line with our business area strategy, to strengthen our capacity and expertise in sustainable driveline technology. Elforest is a valuable addition to Driveline Solutions with its technical expertise and extensive knowledge in both electric and electric hybrid systems, says Jan Brattberg, CEO of Driveline Solutions, in a press release.

For Elforest, it became something of a jackpot to be included in the large, international corporate family that it means to be part of Axel Johnson.

- It's a feather in the cap for us and of course it stabilizes the economy, but it also means that we've got a completely different credibility. It has been difficult to attract the big companies as customers since we are four people in the company. When we are part of a large group, it becomes much easier and in the long term we are going to develop the company and become a bigger player in the area we already exist in, says Gabriel Söderholm, CEO of Elforest.

Stood at a crossroads

Elforest was founded in 2006 and then the business idea was to build the world's first electric forwarder for the forest industry and it was also completed, together with a prototype there were a total of six forwarder. Between 2012–2014, Elforest's forestry machinery slowed down and operations ranged from solely dealing with forestry machinery to producing almost nothing at all.

- The management at the time decided that we would focus on technology consulting and helping machine manufacturers to develop electric power lines and drive systems, says Gabriel.

He started as purchasing manager in 2012, but the role shifted more to working on customer projects and selling the large stocks that remained. In 2017 he became CEO and at the same time the two mayor owners, Volvo and Fouriertransform, which is the state-owned venture capital company, left because their ownership was based on vehicle manufacturing. An owner request eventually ended up with Gabriel and his two colleagues Andreas Lundström and Fredrik Lorenc.

- We stood at a crossroads where the alternatives were either to close down or move on with a new direction and a new focus, and in hindsight we are obviously happy that we invested in Elforest's future, says Gabriel.

"No desktop product"

The development of Elforest into a profitable company is an example of Axel Johnson's involvement and today the well-known industry group has 51 percent of Elforest's shareholding.

- It has been very good since we took over and completely focused on technology consulting. This has led to us being seen and heard, which caught Axel Johnson's interest.

- It is, among other things, our small size that makes us flexible, and we also have experience that spans wide even though we are only four people today. We can participate in everything from feasibility studies to assembling finished prototypes in our own premises. We possess an almost unique cutting-edge knowledge in designing control systems for this type of electric powertrain, says Gabriel.

Since they have been machine builders, they know what it means and what challenges and requirements are posed.

- Although we are consultants, we not only develop a desktop product, but we have experience as a machine builder and that is a strength.

Three products in the portfolio

Today, almost all Swedish automotive and machine manufacturers have been asked to broaden their offering in electrified drive systems - it has become a competitive advantage not to lose market share.

Elforest has three products in its portfolio so far:

WCU.

- It is a flexible and cost-effective control unit and the one we often use in the feasibility study projects we are involved in. We hope to be able to certify and CE-mark a finished commercial product.

Logger.

- We use the Canbus logger equipment frequently, it has mostly been a development tool, but there we see opportunities to pack differently and sell as a service for logging, monitoring or updating a machine. The increased digitization of work vehicles means that we can monitor work vehicles in a different way and our own developed software can handle the task.

Battery Management System (BMS)

- A wireless battery monitoring system that can monitor each cell when assembling lithium cells into a battery pack to know the status and ensure they have as high charge as their buddies in the pack. We have been working on this for several years as a development product and made a number of projects and prototypes, both hardware and software are under development.


Photographer: Håkan Nordström

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