CombiFuel Swiss AG has won the 2019 prize for internationalisation. Now – one year later – Eckhard Tilhof, CEO of CombiFuel, reports what has changed for the company since then, what its next goals are and much more.
When was your company founded and what was the purpose?
The company CombiFuel Swiss AG was founded in 2018 as a spin-off of CleanTech Swiss AG for the purpose of commercialising the self-developed liquid gas retrofit system for all combustion engines with the aim of drastically reducing emissions (CO2, NoX, CO, HC, particle, fine dust up to 80% lower) mainly for vehicles in the commercial sector (generators, trucks, buses, LCVs, construction machinery, ships, agricultural and mining vehicles etc.).
What has changed for your company since winning the SIC?
The attention in the media and social media has increased enormously, we have been able to win new customers and also investors, the presence also in the political landscape has grown, but it is still a long rocky road against electric mobility to be perceived as a real alternative. There is certainly still a tedious task ahead of us.
What was the most important thing you took with you from your time at SIC?
The development of the business plan (a must have for the investors) and of course the reflection on the core competences that make us what we are. The lectures at the FHNW have helped us enormously and opened our eyes. Not least for this reason we also won the INTERNATIONALIZATION prize.
This is your advice for all those who take part in a SIC today:
Roll up your sleeves and critically analyse your company. Take the magnifying glass and look into every corner. Is the business model really solid? Have you considered all the pitfalls? What can kill you and who should you absolutely watch out for or who can rain on your parade? Are you financed sufficiently enough? It always takes longer than you think to enter the market.
What does the near and distant future of your company look like?
At the moment we are doing the last exhaust gas tests before the final certification according to UN ECE, but we already have orders in house which guarantee us a very good contribution margin. Delivery is in preparation and as soon as the authorities give the go-ahead, we will be able to put the systems on the market. In 2021 and 2022 we will be one of the most important suppliers to some African countries for the reduction of emissions from power generators that are currently running on diesel (and therefore emitting high levels of pollutants). Using LPG plus hydrogen as fuel will make the generators cleaner and more sustainable in operation. In the same way, many construction machines and large-volume commercial vehicles will have been retrofitted by then and will make their contribution to the relaxation of the global climate.