Trailblazers, Early Adopters or Guinea-Pigs

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Mik
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No offense intended......hold your guns, animal protection people, I'm with you...

I don't mind guinea-pigs, but I do not like feeling like one. }:)

This forum aims at discussing what a "Code of Conduct" for EV vendors might look like.

A Code of Conduct that turns problems into progress;
enables utilization of the efforts made by "consumers" in the most efficient way;
and lets everyone win: producer, consumer, environment.

Mr. Mik

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Mik
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Re: Trailblazers, Early Adopters or Guinea-Pigs

Dave wrote:

Quote:

I would buy a Vectrix tomorrow if it met the published specs and was reliable. I would even be an early adopter if there was a dealer near by to help me work through the problems. Sadly none of the above is true so others get to be the guinea pigs.

I sent this on Jan 18th, 2008 to the Australian Vectrix salesman regarding guinea pigs ;-)

Quote:

Hi Zzzzz,

Thank you for your phone call yesterday in which you confirmed that there is much activity going on within Vectrix to sort out the problems with my broken down bike.

Let me assure you that I do not mean to harm yours or Vectrix’ reputation in any way, far from it.
You seemed to be a bit concerned about that.

I do accept that there can be drawbacks associated with “trail-blazing”, and I am quite happy to be involved with it.
There is however a fine line between being a trailblazer and being a guinea-pig, and I do not intend to cross this line blindly.

You mentioned yesterday that the bike might have failed because I might have driven it too hard.
You also said that it might possibly be replaced (after inspection of the old one) with a modified Vectrix that is less susceptible to failure due to hard use.
While this might be a real improvement, it could also mean that the modified bike becomes even less able to do what I need it to do.

As my Vectrix was incapable of getting me to one of my workplaces and back right from the start, I do of course fear that further problems might get introduced by modifying any potential replacement bike.
That trip should have been “very doable” according to your assessment after reading my (detailed and accurate) description of the round trip, and falls certainly within the advertised Vectrix Maxi specs.

I would prefer if you and/or the development team could give me a technical description of the proposed modifications.
I would like this description to include an estimate of the likely impact on range, acceleration, ability to drive it in hot weather and whatever other impact on performance might be expected.

I might end up feeling like I’ve crossed over to the guinea-pigs if I just accept a Vectrix that has been made “harder to break”, without some appropriate technical explanation.

You also said you would let me know for when the service / repair or replacement of my Vectrix is likely to be arranged – any news on that yet?

The warranty papers have unfortunately still not arrived.

Kind regards,

Mr. Mik

End of quoting myself......

So far, none of my questions were answered. I guess there is no law that says they have to...

I have however been told that the plan is to get a new Vectrix delivered to me on Feb 5th or 6th, 2008.

I'll find out if it works any better than the old one then!

..

Mr. Mik

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Mik
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Re: Trailblazers, Early Adopters or Guinea-Pigs

On Jan 22nd, 2008 I sent this to the Australian Vectrix Salesman:
(unedited except for names; same bolding as in original)

Quote:

Hello Zzzzz,

Thank you for your update from Jan 21st on the repair planning for my Vectrix.

Although the plan appears to have changed since our telephone conversation on Jan 17th (from replacement with a modified, harder to break new Vectrix to replacing the controller), I do still have the basically same important questions in regards to this, as already mentioned during the telephone conversation and in my email from Jan 18th :

1) Are you planning to replace the motor controller with a controller of exactly the same specifications as the current one?
If not, then what changes will there be compared to the old one?

I am particularly concerned about any reduction to the maximum current that the controller can draw from the battery and/or supply to the motor, because this would likely lead to a reduction in acceleration.

When my Vectrix was still running it took about 11sec to 12sec to reach 80km/h – that was with 111kg “ballast” on board, which explains at least some of the difference to the advertised 6.8sec acceleration. (The “ballast” includes rider, protective gear, locks, heavy chain etc. )

Because of this, average cars were already able to – and regularly did - outrun me at traffic lights, potentially cornering me between themselves and other traffic merging in from the left.
So I am already a bit disappointed with my Vectrix’ acceleration, particularly from 0 – 45km/h.

Any further reduction in acceleration would be unacceptable to me, for I am not prepared to risk my life any more than necessary on an under-powered 2-wheeler. That’s one of the reasons why I spent AU$16000.- on a Vectrix.

2) Will there be any changes in regards to hot weather tolerance of my Vectrix as a result of any changes planned for the repair?
My concern is that the ambient temperature here is often around 40degC in the shade. My guess is that the temperature cutoff for the NiMH battery pack is currently set to about 45degC.
There is a risk that it occasionally gets to that temperature by just standing in the sun at my workplace, especially due to the black plastic cover over some of the battery compartment.
I fear that if the battery max temp. cutoff was further reduced I would frequently find a Vectrix which is refusing to take me home after work, at least not until after sunset and cooling down…!

3) What exactly do you mean when you write: “The service should bring your bike back to life and operating better than before.”?
I think I know what you mean with “bring back to life…”, but what is “operating better”?

Do you mean....
*An increase in range (Currently max 55km when driving extremely gently, under commuting conditions, without any speeds higher than 70km/h)?
*Better acceleration? (see above)
*A reverse gear that works each time (currently 4-5 attempts of pushing the throttle are needed -on average- to engage the reverse)?
*A reliable estimate of remaining range (currently EST RANGE 20km means empty)?
*Faster recharging time? (currently about 5:30hrs for a full charge)?
*No strange noises + deceleration when going up hills?
*Or all of the above??? That would be very nice.

I understand it must be difficult to stop the sales talk when Vectrix is busily trying to ramp up sales, but I would be grateful if you could provide me with straightforward technical answers to my questions.

I believe that the multi-function throttle and one (or several) faulty battery cells are underlying causes for at least some of the above problems.

I am not so convinced that they also caused the eventual complete failure of my Vectrix during gentle driving, be it through damage to the controller or another mechanisms.

A thorough service should clarify all this, I hope.

I wish you all the best for your Vectrix promotions at the Scandia Yacht Week and the Ford A1GP coming up, and trust that you (and the Vectrix team) will do your best to avoid any further hardship to myself from having to pay back the AU$16,000.- loan and at the same time pay for the full running costs of a car.

To date I have paid interest, repayments and insurance for the Vectrix for 50 days, and I had a roadworthy (but under-performing) Vectrix for 21 days out of these 50 days.

Regards,

Mr. Mik

This email went out with cc to several people in influential positions within Vectrix USA.

I have not received an answer to any of these questions so far.

But the plan changed to replacing the whole bike again, but another week later than the previously planned controller replacement (expected for Feb. 5th or 6th, 2008).

So I'll ask here instead:

Do these questions seem fair and reasonable?

Should they answer these questions, or am I a nuisance customer and they should concentrate more on the other 122 customers?

Of course I think I know the answers, but with reports of dangerous malfunctions of the throttle starting to come from other owners (see http://visforvoltage.org/forum/2206-vectrix-owners-new-amp-prospective#new ) it's time to clarify one very important question:

How do you distinguish Trail-blazers from Guinea pigs?

This warrants this whole new forum, I believe, and is by no means restricted to any particular company.

After all, Vectrix have replaced several bikes and fixed a few more, even flying service staff to some customers etc., which apparently cannot be said about some of the other players in the current EV scooter field.

And don't forget I'm 2000km from the only Vectrix dealer on this continent.....so some delays are unavoidable.

Mr. Mik

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davew
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Re: Trailblazers, Early Adopters or Guinea-Pigs

Quote:

Do these questions seem fair and reasonable?

Certainly. You spent $11,0000 (US) to beta test their bike. I would hope answering some detailed questions would be in order. In the larger scheme of things they should want someone who will use the bike as much as possible including to its limits so they can work out the bugs that others will surely find. If the bike can't handle 40C then Vectrix won't be selling to a good chunk of California.

If I told one of our customers that they are using our Fibre Channel cards too hard they would laugh in my face... then cancel the contract.

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