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NBR: Vectrix goes under

 
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ericalm
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:44 pm    Post subject: NBR: Vectrix goes under Reply with quote

Electric scooter maker Vectrix has laid off almost all employees and is 30 days from bankruptcy unless they can find a buyer or investor. They were close to this point earlier in the year, but seemed to rebound and were even signing new dealers on.

http://bizblog.projo.com/2009/07/electric-scoote.html

In a nutshell, I think they had a good product but offered the wrong type of scooter at the wrong price point. I don't think that this signals the end for electric scooters, which are an inevitability.

But much like the electric cars of past years and decades (or even before their time devices like eBooks, the Apple Newton, etc.), Vectrix depended on the right combination of technology, consumer demand, business and manufacturing infrastructure, financial incentives and economic conditions. They couldn't fully capitalize on last year's boom because their $8500 MSRP VX-1 model had trouble competing with much lower priced gas scooters that got 90mpg and could go 100 miles between fill ups. (The '07 models debuted at around $11K, I think. Some dealers this year has older models at discounted prices, under $7K. And several states offered ZEV tax incentives.)

The other problems: It was designed like a maxi-scooter, but had the power of a 150cc. At common city speeds, range dropped to 30 miles or less. (While this would cover most commutes, it's still a huge deterrent for many buyers.) Battery technology was surpassing what they were using and they were slow to adopt new ones or offer upgrades.

I also suspect a lot of R&D money was wasted. While they should have been focusing on smaller, cheaper and better range, their scooters got minor upgrades. A planned 3-wheel model based on Piaggio's MP3 platform was supposed to debut at $16K and was eventually abandoned. (Yet I saw, and even sat on, one at the IMS a couple years ago and reviewers were allowed to test it.)

Electric scooters are already selling well in Asia thanks to tightening emissions standards and attempts to reduce congestion in dense cities. Yes, the Chinese are making and selling a bunch of very cheap, low-quality models that will likely suffer all the issues of their gas scooters.

I have high hopes for the KLD E-165, which I think could be the "Prius" of the electric scooter world. Like the Prius, it boasts a unique design that sets it apart from other models. The engine design is totally new, not just a battery powered motor in an otherwise traditional scooter. This is a transmissionless direct drive. The specs look good, if they hold true: 65mph top speed, 100 mile range (at 20mph) with extra battery, 0-50 in 10 seconds. Actually slightly better than the Vectrix for under $4K (extra battery is $1K more).

It may not be for me (yet…), but it's a lot closer to what I think we need to build an electric scooter market in the US.

[EDITED TO ADD:] By the way, though KLD is based in Austin, the scooters are being built in Vietnam by their top scooter maker, Sufat. They will also debut there before the US.

The Vectrix was also built overseas—in Poland.

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Last edited by ericalm on Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
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siobhan
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did you beat me to posting this! Very, very sad for our little corner of the world...those were good-paying jobs for a very depressed part of southern New England.
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ericalm
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

siobhan wrote:
How did you beat me to posting this! Very, very sad for our little corner of the world...those were good-paying jobs for a very depressed part of southern New England.

The power of Twitter! I heard about it from 3 sources at almost the same time. Smile

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd gotten my ProJo feed, but then had a bunch of meetings and couldn't get to it right away. Ugh...stupid profs needing help!
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bummer. I always wondered how Vectrix could compete given their entry price points. I guess they couldn't.

I too have high hopes for the KLD 165. I researched scooters for the better part of a year before settling on a Buddy 50/Roughhouse. I'd have loved to go the electric route, but the technology just ain't there quite yet. At least, not at a competitive price.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh wow, that E-165 is really really cool.

Too bad vectrix didnt take off, I wish they had, hoping that it will trigger a boom in pure electric vehicles, the same way as Prius triggered the hybrid boom.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:24 am    Post subject: Re: NBR: Vectrix goes under Reply with quote

ericalm wrote:
I have high hopes for the KLD E-165, which I think could be the "Prius" of the electric scooter world. ... The specs look good, if they hold true: 65mph top speed, 100 mile range (at 20mph) with extra battery, 0-50 in 10 seconds. Actually slightly better than the Vectrix for under $4K (extra battery is $1K more).

That really does look promising. If this had been available when I was shopping, I very well might have given up on taking the scoot on road trips for the ability to stop burning gasoline.
ericalm wrote:
By the way, though KLD is based in Austin, the scooters are being built in Vietnam by their top scooter maker, Sufat.

Much like with Genuine, this is the closest we can expect to get to an "American" scooter.

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ericalm
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:19 am    Post subject: Re: NBR: Vectrix goes under Reply with quote

TVB wrote:
Much like with Genuine, this is the closest we can expect to get to an "American" scooter.

Yup. At the moment, KDL is an American company designing a scooter that's built in Vietnam and will be sold there first. Genuine is an American company that's partnered with a Taiwanese and Indian companies but their first original design has yet to go into production. So, really, Vectrix was probably the "most" American company in that sense. KDL and Genuine will both be on a similar level once the E-140/165 and the fabled touring scooter come to market.

Still, the companies understand that it's a global scooter market and that products need to have global appeal.

I'm eagerly anticipating both of these scooters, as you can probably imagine.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's that 25-mile extension cord that was their downfall.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hyuuu wrote:
oh wow, that E-165 is really really cool.

Too bad vectrix didnt take off, I wish they had, hoping that it will trigger a boom in pure electric vehicles, the same way as Prius triggered the hybrid boom.


Yeah, my Genuine dealer carries Vectrix as well, and they seem like well put together bikes. They talk very highly of them anyway.

I just popped them off an email to see whats going to happen to their stock of Vectrix bikes.... We'll see...

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ericalm
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If rumors are true, BMW is working on an all-electric maxi scooter. They may never bring it to the US—their last scooter was never sold here—but it could raise a lot of interest in other models. I don't know if there'd be an EV1-like effect, where interest would spike after the models go out of production. Of course, a lot of focus then was on GM. If Vectrix disappears, that's the end of that.

There is an active Vectrix forum at http://www.vectixowners.com

I have to wonder what will happen to any company assets as well as stockpiles of parts, etc.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, my dealer confirmed it. They're clearing out their Vectrix's.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kaos wrote:
Yeah, my dealer confirmed it. They're clearing out their Vectrix's.

Heh, tonight my dealer, Mike at Noho Scooters, told me, "The Portland guys are blowing out their Vectrixes." (Vectrixs? Vetrices?)

Mike had agreed to bring the Vectrix to an event tomorrow. Now he has to go and let people know he can't sell any more of them.

Sadly, he probably could have sold a lot more of them. There's a lot of interest in electric vehicles around here, especially from studios and other companies that want to be able to brag that they've gone green.

If Vectrix doesn't find a buyer and winds up going bankrupt after the 30 day term, there will likely be a sale or auction of their stock and parts inventory. It'll be interesting to see who winds up with what. They haven't sold an enormous quantity yet in the US and I think they probably have quite a bit of stock. They were signing dealers up to the end and a lot of them got previous year's models to sell at a discount to test the market.

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