Unai Aranzadi en Gaza con miembros del Frente popular para la liberación de PalestinaUnai Aranzadi, el autor de este artículo sobre ECHANDIA, la empresa sueca con nombre vasco, es reportero de guerra, periodista de investigación, y realizador de documentales. Con 20 años inició su actividad profesional como reportero en Gaza, donde fue sacada esta foto en compañía de miembros del Frente popular para la liberación de Palestina. Al que quiera conocer más sobre su trayectoria profesional y humana le recomendamos la lectura de un amplio artículo en Vice.

Unai Aranzadi has once again given us the gift of his collaboration with our blog.  And he again surprises us with yet another fascinating tale.  It’s clear he has journalism in his genes.  There’s a reason he’s a direct descendant of Engracio de Aranzadi, director and manager of the newspaper Euzkadi between its founding in 1913 and 1927, as well as one of the leading ideologues of Basque nationalism.

Those who’ve read the chronicles of his life in Sweden, where he resides with his family, or of his experiences all over the world, enjoy every sentence, and discover the extraordinary stories hidden behind those details that most of us look over.

While it is true that a Swedish company dedicated to the design and implementation of zero emissions energy systems under a Basque name, ECHANDIA, is not something that will go unnoticed, Unai once again discovers the interesting story behind that detail, bringing together a purse designer of Basque origins and a leading Swedish company via a connection in London.

Finally, we can’t help but wonder whether this small, but beautiful, story may serve as a catalyst to creating connections between Basque and Swedish companies in the renewable energies field.

A BASQUE NAME FOR AN INNOVATIVE SWEDISH COMPANY

An article by Unai Aranzadi

Logo de la compañía sueca Echandia
Logo of the Swedish company Echandia

Some of the largest zero-emissions passenger ferries in the world are those to be found in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, though most of its technology, including the electrical power systems, were designed in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.  So far so normal, as it is known that Sweden is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to technological innovation.  What’s curious, at least for ABOUT BASQUE COUNTRY readers, is the name of the company building these systems: ECHANDIA.

The first zero-emissions passenger ship was an Echandia project.  It was called Movitz, it charged in ten minutes, and today it is a successful reality, not only transporting passengers around Stockholm, but also serving as a model and inspiration for engineers the world over.  More recently, it was announced that the largest electrical fleet in the world would be deployed in Kochi, in southern India, and would also carry the name Echandia, which comes from “large house”, etxe handia in Basque.

Belen Echandia Bags, la marcha que conecta a una diseñadora de origen vasco con un empresa sueca de energías renovables
Belen Echandia Bags, la marcha que conecta a una diseñadora de origen vasco con un empresa sueca de energías renovables

But why would a Basque name be given to a young Swedish company run and staffed by Swedes?  The story is told by its founder, naval architect Magnus Eriksson, who chose the name Echandia because of his wife, British attorney Jackei Cawthra, who founded a luxury accessories design firm in London called Belén Echandia.  And why that name?  Quite simple.  Ms. Cawthra liked the name of the designer of her first collection, who was a Basque woman named Belén Echandia, and that’s how the first came to bear her name.

The business was a success, but after a maternity leave, it ran its course, but, as they were already so fond of the unique personality behind that surname, Echandia, they decided to use it again in their new, leading project to create clean energy propulsion.

So, if you ever take a ride on one of these electric botas, which we hope will soon rather than later be cutting through waters all over the globe, check to see if the brand is Echandia, an echo of an ancient language that has been crossing borders and charting new seas for centuries.


Echandia –   – Sweden

Zero-emission energy solutions for heavy-duty industry

Echandia is a world-leading provider of zero-emission energy systems for heavy-duty industry.  We deliver the world’s most advanced LTO battery modules for the maritime and rail markets. The company has also developed a state-of-the-art fuel-cell solution, alongside Canadian company Redrock Power. 

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