Ever since he was a boy, David Medina Alvarez had an idea of what he wanted to do with his life – art.
In middle school, he leaned into drawing and design but didn’t know if it would lead to anything. That is until he was introduced to the work of Horacio Pagani, an Argentinian businessman and engineer and the founder of Pagani Automobili, an Italian specialty automaker.
Pagani cars aren’t your average automobile. Medina-Alvarez admired that they are radically styled, low-volume supercars that sport over-the-top embellishments—and that was enough to inspire him to dream.
“I saw what he was doing, and I said, I want to do that, I want to be like him,” Medina-Alvarez said. “After that moment, I planned it out in my head and broke it down to my parents, and it is thanks to them and their support of my dreams that I am where I am today.”
While he was in high school, Medina-Alvarez had an idea. He wanted to build and design an electric bike. He saw there was a need; e-bikes could help you ride farther and faster than you would on a traditional bicycle, and consumers wanted them.
“There was a boom in electric vehicles, and I had the idea set,” Medina-Alvarez said. “I found that everyone was doing cars, but not everyone was doing ATVs. Most four-wheelers would clog in the water and stop working. Very prone to damage regardless of the terrain.”
He felt his purpose was to develop an electric motorcycle, go to Italy to study, and follow in Pagani’s footsteps. However, a small school in Detroit sparked his curiosity. While he was searching for the perfect college, he met up with his mentor, who happened to be the regional director of Tecnológico de Monterrey, a private university known for engineering and design in México. The director mentioned the College for Creative Studies, a Detroit institution considered one of the best design schools in the world.
“I had a character development moment that led me to look into CCS, and then I saw the pedigree of the school and the alumni, which made me change my mind. I had never been to Detroit before, but it was one of those things you just say yes to,” Medina-Alvarez said.
In 2018, Medina-Alvarez boarded a plane to Detroit to attend the College for Creative Studies to pursue transportation design.
Detroit was so different from his hometown of Morelos. Once here, he dove deep into Detroit’s automotive history and its legacy of Industrial design. But he couldn’t shake his vision for an electric bike. Medina Alvarez’s vision of what an e-bike would look like evolved over time, and ultimately he shifted from making a bike to making a four-wheeler. His idea would not only change ATVs for the good of the planet but also the thrill for the rider.
In 2022, Medina-Alvarez founded LIVAQ, a Detroit-based startup that develops electric off-road vehicles. LIVAQ produced the EQUAD, its first electric ATV. The EQUAD has a max speed of 67 mph and a range of 170 miles. It’s cutting-edge technology that would improve the off-road experience.
He named his company LIVAQ to honor his indigenous roots. The name comes from Quechua, a language spoken by the Inca people, meaning “the shocking energy”—an impactful, powerful explosion of energy similar to when lightning hits the earth.
LIVAQ is not your typical start-up, this motor vehicle manufacturer has a bigger picture. He wants to connect riders to their environment through eco-friendly and sustainable technologies while simultaneously combating the lack of opportunities for minorities. It is an innovative idea that provides space for people of color in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Medina-Alvarez has a fundamental belief in empowering minorities and providing space for inspiration to dream and to bring those dreams to life.
You have to have role models to be able to say, ‘Yes, I can do this,” Medina-Alvarez said.
“You have to see another person of your same skin color, speaking Spanish and half-broken English and making millions for what they designed.”
And today, at 24, Medina-Alvarez is not only an entrepreneur and transportation designer but a self-described soñador—a dreamer inspired by Mexico and designed in Detroit.
The EQUAD debuted at the Detroit Auto Show last September and has turned many heads in the off-road industry.
Medina-Alvarez will accept the Emerging Talent award for his impactful work on shaping the future of electric off-road vehicles from Global Detroit on Nov. 2nd at The Jam Handy in Midtown Detroit. For ticket information, visit https://globaldetroitmi.org/annual-event/