Interview with our longest standing Engineering member
18 August 2022
Today we sat down with Arno, the longest standing member of the engineering team. Talking about his past, present and future at Addax Motors.
A young company and a young engineer
As one of the very first engineers at Addax Motors , Arno Hantson knows the company well. And even though he’s just 28 year old, he’s been intimately involved in the process of developing the company’s range of electric vehicles since the beginning.
Following engineering studies in Kortrijk, Arno joined the company on a student placement. He was intrigued to hear of an opening at a Belgian automotive manufacturer that he’d never heard of. Arno was hired to develop CAD drawings, a subject he knew well. This was at the time the company was making its first 3D models, and validating its prototypes.
“I was lucky that there was a head engineer at the company who had a lot more experience than me. He’d already worked for a number of large car companies. Apart from helping me find my feet, one of the most valuable lessons he taught me was how to sell a good idea to the rest of the company!”
From student to specialist engineer
While Arno’s studies had been focussed on automotive technology – including mechanical and electrical engineering – almost all related to ICE vehicles. The learning curve on designing and working with electric vehicles was steep … fortunately though, both the suspension and brakes are identical. It didn’t take him long to catch up, and start contributing to the company’s new vehicles.
“We are always looking to the future,” Arno says. “We continually strive to evolve the vehicles and stretch the limits of our platform. My job is to develop the next iteration, but for that we need to fully understand what the vehicle will be used for.”
This touches on the different uses of the Addax vehicle, as public parks and gardening trucks don’t have the same requirements as last mile delivery vehicles. In fact, this goes to the very heart of Addax Motors’s offer, namely that the company is able to custom design the bodywork on top of the chassis to meet the needs of the customer.
“Our goal is to keep the cabin as is for now, but change the battery, motor, back suspension and bodywork to meet the specific demands of our different customer types. For example, some of our customers don’t need a lot of range or speed – they need to move dirt and carry garden waste, while others want to be able to deliver groceries within a 20 km radius around a City … so greater range is important for them.”
The professionalisation of the company
Arno tells us that the last 2 years have seen major advancements on a number of fronts. Production is now more streamlined, and the engineering team no longer needs to solve day-to-day problems. The marketing team has been reinforced and the right people are in strategic positions around the company, including sales. Addax Motors has also moved into a new building. As a result, production output is growing to meet rising demand.
“The culture of the company hasn’t fundamentally changed,” says Arno. “OK, gone are the ‘Wild West’ times when we spent days (and nights) putting out fires. But, at the heart of it all, Addax Motors is still a start-up, and that’s part of the excitement and challenge. And it’s one I look forward to every single day.”
Arno’s favourite car?
When asked to name his favourite all-time car, Arno, as ever the precise engineer, says “What for?” It turns out that he’s a true petrolhead, and if money and the environment weren’t part of the equation, and speed and fun was the main criteria, he’d be happy to drive a Dodge Challenger for a few days. “It’s loud and stupid,” he says. “A car for everyday driving though? And money no object? I think I’d go for a Toyota GT86 or Subaru BRZ.”