With his broad background from Tesla and the e-mobility industry, the new CEO for Zaptec, Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen, is ready to strengthen the position of Zaptec as a leading player in EV charging solutions, not only in Norway but also Europe and the rest of the world.
Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen has been in the CEO seat since April, and it’s obvious that he’s already settled in well. He lives in Copenhagen and commutes to Norway three days a week.
“It’s been an amazing experience so far, and I am honoured to have been given this trust. Zaptec has dedicated and skilled employees at all its offices and I’m looking forward to working with them on meeting the goals that we’ve set ourselves,” he says.
The Dane has been a member fo the Zaptec board since autumn 2020 and is now deputy chair of the board. He therefore has good insight into the company that he will now lead into the future.
“As a board member, I was there when the company went public and I’ve been involved in the strategy going forward. It has been very interesting to be involved in shaping the business. This makes it much easier to take on the role of CEO,” he stresses.
The man who introduced Tesla to Norwegians
That Bardenfleth-Hansen would end up as an expert in electric cars and charging solutions was not a given. He started his career in the hotel and restaurant industry and he has been involved in running a wine bar, restaurant, bar and nightclub. When the financial crisis hit, he wanted to change his career path and coincidence wanted him to cross paths with Tesla CEO himself, Elon Musk.
“At the nightclub where I was sales manager, we had a member magazine for which we were to write an article about electric sports cars. We had a chat with the then unknown Elon Musk who was about to launch the Tesla Roadster,” he says.
During the interview, it emerged that Musk was looking for a team to represent Tesla in northern Europe. It all ended with Bardenfleth-Hansen and a colleague becoming permanently employed and opening the first Tesla outlet in Scandinavia.
“I had previously gone through bankruptcy and had no industry knowledge of electric cars. What I saw as major drawbacks were instead my biggest advantages, for it was precisely that kind of person that Elon Musk wanted in his organisation. People who had managed to rise after the downturn and who could look at the industry with new eyes,” he says.
Due to the use of intensification by the Norwegian authorities for electric car owners, Bardenfleth-Hansen saw great opportunities in Norway, becoming the man who introduced Tesla to Norwegians.
“At that time, the electric car industry was in its infancy with only a few thousand registered electric cars in the country, most of which were Think or Buddy. Very few people believed in electric cars and in a good month, we sold maybe three Tesla Roadsters,” he recalls.
Since then, the electric car industry has seen tremendous development. Electric cars have become the new car of the people. The EV is dominant overall in the new car market and is also growing in the used car market in Norway. Tesla has gone from being an unknown car brand to being the very definition of an electric car.
“Yes, ‘the rest is history’”, says Bardenfleth-Hansen, smiling.
Bringing the best of the Elon Musk style of leadership
The 52-year-old became the first Tesla executive in Norway. During his ten years with the company, he also became regional manager for the Nordic region. The position took him to a lot of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, including longer stays in Jordan and Japan. Bardenfleth-Hansen brings many valuable experiences to Zaptec from Tesla, not least from the controversial leadership style of Elon Musk.
“Among other things, I learned that it is important to stay focused on the goal and not take any shortcuts, even if it costs time, money and resources. Not least, it is important to have a clear vision that the whole organisation understands. Everyone needs to know what the company stands for. When everyone is going in the same direction, this creates a unique unity, which in turn will lead the company towards success,” he says.
Like Elon Musk, the new boss of Zaptec is also a fan of a flat organisational structure, where as a boss he quickly learns about what is not working from his employees.
“In this way, I can help them resolve it so they can do their job in the best possible way. I’ll hear from others what works anyway,” he stresses.
Involved in all parts of the e-mobility ecosystem
Since Bardenfleth-Hansen left Tesla, he has had many irons in the fire and engaged as a member of the board and advisor to a number of players in the e-mobility industry; Volta Trucks, CAKE, Viggo Ridehailing, Evyon, Monta and Alpha Motors. These companies provide everything from electric bikes, taxis and trucks to electric car batteries.
“ I decided to engage in all parts of the e-mobility ecosystem. By knowing the entire value chain well, I have acquired valuable knowledge, which allows me to quickly become familiar with all issues around electrification,” he says.
Will contribute to sustainable change
Bardenfleth-Hansen looks forward to strengthening the position of Zaptec as a leading supplier of charging infrastructure in Norway.
“ We are already a leader in safety, cutting-edge technology and quality. We will work to retain that position and also create good charging solutions and good charging infrastructure. We will work for the change to green,” he says.
According to the Zaptec boss, 90% of new car sales in Norway are rechargeable hybrid and electric cars – these are numbers that were only dreamed of only a few years ago – and are now a development that cannot be stopped. Electric cars are not as prevalent in other countries, where the majority of people still choose diesel or petrol cars. Here, Zaptec wants to contribute to a change by offering sustainable and forward-looking products that facilitate energy efficiency.
Zaptec already has subsidiaries in Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Denmark, France, Italy and the Netherlands and the plan is to continue to expand to more countries.
“We think the US and Canada are exciting markets, which we will look into,” says Bardenfleth-Hansen.
Investing in strategic cooperation
Zaptec also focuses on strategic collaborations that contribute to an electrified future. The company recently started a partnership with Monta – a Danish company that delivers charging programmes for electric cars.
The product solution is called Zaptec Park and consists of Zaptec Pro chargers and the Monta software program and is a step closer to a simpler and seamless payment service for electric car and facility owners. The solution will help speed up the availability of charging points across Europe.
Is collaboration the way to go to achieve further success in Norway and abroad?
“ Over the next few years, I think we will see major consolidations of operators in Europe. At Zaptec, we are always looking for Nordic or European collaboration that provides more opportunities to the end user, adds value or benefits the customer experience,” concludes Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen.