The E-Max Blog: "The Big Breakup" China v. Germany

jason's picture

The end result is that both German and Chinese partners in the original e-max line of scooters treated their USA customers and dealers unfairly and unjustly. As a result of the German and Chinese business decisions, and possible international fraud they may have commited, the US personal EV market will remain limping from this very sore breakup; I suspect for quite some time.

Most effected by this bad business experience were the die-hard PEV supporters here in the US that have contributed considerable experience and knowledge to our cause. These scooters we purchased were not just a business transaction, exchanging money for manufactured goods, a product. These purchases where based on social desicions we each had to make in our own ways, to affirm our commitment to our own social causes. Some may be either EV or battery enthusiasts, others may shout for justice, or sustainability, or against miliary occupation, or war, or dependence on fossil fuels, or whatever the cause.

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the US not very long after I ordered my e-max in 2005. Already gas prices had hit $3 when I was getting used to riding my e-max. By the time I realized what happened, e-max had gone from a company I was supporting, sweating and breathing for, blogging my experiences until that sudden day I realized -- e-max was an illusion. The reason behind my purchase was very real. The company, however, just disolved into what we have today. If they treat their customers and dealers like they did, I can not imagine how they treat their own workers. Instead, what we are left with is a divided community, a cross-cultural disappointment, and continued oil dependence fueling our consumption nightmare.

I wish Li Jing "Good Luck" getting that first crate of scooters over to the USA. I will pray for the customers who buy one and expect support and service to be authentic. If parts are available, or realiable, or made with any quality - these are the questions we still have not proven and will most likely not waste our time and money finding out, again.

See, there are lots of Chinese companies making scooters. No kidding. The USA E-Max dealership network was what was so important, for US customers and to ensure successful sales to GGC Germany and their Chinese partners. The American customers need to know there is someone supporting their purchase and willing to back it up. Despite what American mass media and Hollywood will tell you, most Americans do not have a lot of money. Most Americans can not affort to buy a scooter, let alone a car. You can't treat customers in the USA like that and then expect sales here. WE TALK TO EACH OTHER. We won't forget how we were treated by those same partners, once united, now seperate entities hawking their own products, with no USA dealer support -- that'll be a difficult task considering good dealers are rarer than the customers they serve. Your companies have already screwed the best of the best. Anything less would be a shame for the whole EV community.

Now certainly the USA as a whole (ie. our bloated government, fat suits, mass media, bling-bling consumer culture, etc) probably deserves a little poor customer treatment considering their attitudes towards the rest of the world (and their own backyards, for that matter). However, I guarantee you that the USA e-max customer and dealers were not even close to being like that stereotype, and hence they are part of the solution to not use up all the resources in the world, not the problem, causing the serious inequities our country (but not us) have supported and encouraged along the way. I am very sorry about that.

In my own way, I am trying to do my part to wake up and Be, rather than crawl out of bed and cause someone (somewhere "else") suffering because of my carelessness, unsustainable actions, or ignorance. I believe in community, I believe in supporting people by encouraging them, inspiring them and enriching their lives by giving of myself in any way necessary. I wish there was a way we could all make our own scooters with parts created locally, sustainably, and without inequity towards others. I know that is not our reality right now. Each day we look at ourselves as the solution we move closer to that reality. Not this day, but some day.

I know I've been silent for a while now, ever since the blog went cold in September, but I am still here and still digesting the whole experience. There is a fire burning in my belly and one of the most effective ways I know how to temper it is to write about what is making me burn. This whole experience, e-max and otherwise, is what is stoking my fires. It's actually quite surreal. Just wait until I write about what I have been up to and learned since September...

Sweet EV dreams,

- jason

The E-Max Blog

before comments


chas_stevenson's picture


Good to see you are still around. I went to look at your Diary & Soap Box to see if there was anything new and I noticed the link to V is for Voltage still links to the old site. This site is .net the old site was .com, I hope you can fix this your Blog is very informative and good reading.

Chas S.

Gman's picture

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Glad to see you back, after your Roll Call.
Can you bring us up to date on exactly what's going on with E Max and China?
Jacky or LXHLTL of TOPMOTORX says they are still looking for US Distributors I beleive.
Are these statements true to the best of your knowledge?
All of our four models are USA DOT and EU approved .
We ever cooperated with a Germany famous brand electric scooter Company and have professional knowledge and experience to improve our products.

Are you involved in your V is for Voltage Community? :?
What is our preferred future?

Peace Out, <img src="">

Hey Jason,

I can relate 100 % to that feeling, I had a sensation of a "pang" in my stomach when I saw the RAV 4 EV on earth day 2000 in Santa Barbara, CA where the local dealer estimated it would cost me less than $ 15.000,- to buy (after 8.000.- in tax incentives by the state etc. - there were unbelievable benefits available - until this corrupt gang of neanderthalians, namely the Bush Admin, stepped in and destroyed it for a long time.
Needless to say, that the car industry was happy to see that their math was working out so they could stop paying out of their noses for the development of the first several thousand cars which indeed did cost them a fortune.

Tricky thing is: We gotta spend our fortunes for renewable tech as long as we have a societal structure that enables us to accumulate wealth like we have in the past 40 years. So if you have the dough, and you're not renting, BUY the solar roof and get used to optimizing it. Too many people want a friggin " RETURN on their investment " within say six years or so. I urge everyone thinking like this to reconsider and view a PV system or an EV as a social and ethical NECESSITY that we need to implement as long as the rest of our society keeps dreaming and resisting change.
People who have limited co-dependency on the grid will be the ones the neighbors might come running to for their news and community once their lights go out (look at Canada - it already happened!!)

After Gore's movie immediately went and bought the E-MAX (which I'm still riding) and - funny, I see gas prices tumbling left and right, even here in CA.
If i concentrate on my personal "Event Horizon" I made a change in my "backyard" and I saw a reaction - not necessarily because of a direct linkage but if a "butterfly flapping his wings in El Salvador" can influence a hurricane in the gulf region - I have made my contribution. I use my car about twice a week now versus every day - and I have a TON more fun living!
We have to keep walking towards adversity because the adversity is similar to a psychological "block" someone may experience in therapy or counseling - the breakthrough may just be around the corner!

Something else to consider:

The pricing structure of the E-mAX left GGC with a nice profit, since they manufactured in China. At 3.000 bucks, this scooter could be manufactured here in the U.S. - the parts like batts and such, still would need to be imported, but with our QC we would be far better off. That is- if the infrastructural powers that be LET us!

My point is to encourage all our fellow co-pioneers to not dim that fire in the belly, but rather join the community in holding the torch for the future - we have all the tools to make it happen!

reikiman's picture

I agree with what you said. Mebbe if I'd realized the RAV4-EV could be bought for that price at that time I'd be owning one but the price I remember seeing for the RAV4-EV was $30,000.

As for prices for a scooter. I have an EVT 4000, which is largely the same idea as the E-Max. I get a mixed reaction when I tell people the price these go for. Either it's way too much, or just fine. If you compare it speed for speed with a gas powered vehicle the $2500 you pay for a new EVT would buy you a gas thingy that will go 45 miles/hr, versus the 30 miles/hr max for the EVT.

To me the important thing is the drive train doesn't buy into fossil fuels but if you only look at the featureset and ignore the side effects, the gas powered vehicle gives more bang for the buck.

The dealer in Santa Barbara, CA, had a sticker on it with just under $ 43.000,- on it. !!!!

Ok----- you can get up now and take a breath ;-=)
They (TOYOTA and the other guys) just didn't want to see it happening. Because it would have happened. We would have seen these little guys running around in great numbers in no time! I testdrove it and looked at the Speedometer, thinking I was going about 45 mph - it was at 80 mpH!! Unbelievable technology.

Let's hope for more human insight.

reikiman's picture

There is, today, a commercial EV you can buy for around $10,000

The Xebra Sedan and Xebra PK are both available today for a very reasonable amount. So long as you don't need to go on fast roads (e.g. 65 miles/hr highway) you can cruise around town in this thing and it's got enough range to handle a very large portion of ones driving needs.

jason's picture

> Are these statements true to the best of your knowledge?
> "All of our four models are USA DOT and EU approved .
> We ever cooperated with a Germany famous brand electric
> scooter Company and have professional knowledge and
> experience to improve our products."

They are lying. Obviously they have no current positive relationship with Germany or their previous partners whatsoever. Their knowledge and experience has already been proven, or not, depending on how you look at it. Maybe they should make the improvements BEFORE considering marketing these to the US. Remember, it was Germany and Texas marketing the product, not China. They were having a hard enough time supplying quality parts for the batches they were making for e-max.

You and I both know how long it took E-MaxUSA to get DOT approval for the first batch of Standard and Sport models. When the VIN changed from (falsely) manufacturer based in Germany to (the more accurate) China, the DOT approval had to go through more issues and caused further delays. Currently, the Chinese VIN is approved for the exisiting models, but as far as I understand it, the newly manufactured models will need to re-apply for approval, again. Therefore, the Chinese company does not have DOT approval, only the E-MaxUSA/GCC partnership that applied for certification still has a valid approval.

In otherwords, even if TOPMOTORX ships models to the US, there will be no US DOT approval or MCO (Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin) paperwork with it. This serves as your title with VIN, for registration purposes. There will also be less support than what we saw with E-MaxUSA, you can be sure of that.

I wouldn't hold my breath. I'd even be willing to make a bet you will not see their scooters in the US in 2007. At least not able to be registered and legally driven on US roadways.

- jason

Gman's picture

Have you seen this? :?
Sent: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 3:25 AM
Subject: 2000 watt electric scooter distributor/dealer recruiting!!

we are pleased to announce we are expanding our business line 2000 watt
electric scooter and are looking for the distributor and dealers.

For more details ,pls feel free to browse our website

Are you involved in your V is for Voltage Community? :?
What is our preferred future?

Peace Out, <img src="">

davew's picture

There is one of these around Longmont, my fair city sub-zero ice palace. It's pink. It's cute. The owner claims real world performance of 40mph and 40 mile range. This could work for some people, but this is limited enough that using this vehicle would take some thought and preplanning. It's classed as a motorcycle so registering it is easy. I'm a bit disappointed that the owner uses it for most things except commuting to work. Her job is too far away.

I would be a little nervous about spending 10k for something that has very little support. ZAP claims that any motorcycle place should be able to work on it, but this is pretty much a theory until it is tested. A lot of Sparrow owners got left high and dry running on the same principle.

I realize that this is my fourth response to a technology posting in as many weeks and the fourth time I haven't been exactly positive. I am wildly in favor of EVs. I just think we owe it to potential buyers to cover the benefits and the pitfalls.


Full time ebiker
BionX and Wilderness Energy

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

reikiman's picture

Dave, I understand your concern. I can only go by the discussion I've been following in the Xebra group on yahoo!groups.

First they contend anybody with electrical knowledge e.g. a golfcart repair place .. would be able to maintain these things. They weren't claiming motorcycle shops could do it. Motorcycle shop mechanics would go "HUH??" .. But the Xebra is using golfcart-like parts and the golfcart people will say "yeah, we understand this".

The real world measurements by the people in the Xebra group are 35 miles/hr max, and 15-20 miles range at that speed. This falls into the same realm where every EV maker seems to over-quote their specs, giving the highest speed they ever achieved, and giving the longest range they ever achieved, and you're never going to achieve both at the same time.

Recently some of the Xebra owners and dealers have been hacking on them to .. in some cases add voltage (84v, 96v) .. in another case they're looking at a Lithium-ION battery pack which would be 72 volts or more at 200 amp-hours. Yup, 200 amp-hours. With that much capacity you're talking 60 miles range or more. And ZAP is working to upgrade/fix the design as well. At 84 volts the Xebra gets an honest 40+ miles/hr, the range increases, the motor operates a little cooler, etc and strangely even though the alltrax controller is rated at 72 volts it actually will handle a 84 volt pack because the components are rated at 100 volts.

The last thing I catch from the Xebra group is that the owners are really really excited with their vehicles and there is a lot of positive enthusiasm. That says a lot.

Gman's picture

Hi Jason,
I was asked to pass this along to you.

From: Jackyliu2005 [at]
Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2007 4:54 AM
Subject: our USA dot approval

Dear Gman,
Mr Jason doubt our USA DOT is not true, please go to the government link below to check with WMI:LVW

the new one is got Sep 1,2006
the old one is got Jan 9,2006 when we cooperate with our Germany partner...

PROVINCE, 528244
Letter Date 09/01/2006

Letter Date 01/09/2006

Peace Out, peace_out.jpg

Jason, now that we have clarified our beliefs, your invited to join us as we begin building on them to define our

Peace Out, <img src="">

Wizard's picture

First let me say that I am a ZAP Xebra dealer. But first I was an EV enthusiast. I got started with electric scooters on the old V site and have learned to hate ICE stinkers more with each passing day since my first EV grin.

I think the Xebra owner who told you that the vehicle gets 40 miles to a charge was painting a bit more of a rosey picture than is really the case. Around 20 miles per charge is more realistic. We now have bigger batteries that allow us to do a full 40 miles per charge and are offered as an upgrade. I use the 20 mpc batteries right now and I do have to plan ahead, but it never stops me from doing everything in town that I need to do. I can do 50 miles in a day with opportunity charges.

Having said that, I think you hit on a couple great points. One statement was

"I'm a bit disappointed that the owner uses it for most things except commuting to work. Her job is too far away."

I would not be so disappointed if I were you. I use my Xebra for everything but my commute to work. Most of my ICE miles were "everything but" miles. It turns out for me that the "everything but" added up to 80% to 90% of my driving. I use my Xebra for in town trips to the store or taking the kids to school and other errands.

You also stated:

"This could work for some people, but this is limited enough that using this vehicle would take some thought and preplanning."

Well, welcome to the world of EVs. We put thought into where we are going and do quite a lot of preplanning. I happen to think that is a responsible thing. I don't feel like it hinders me, I feel it helps me be a better citizen of this planet.

The one statement I will take total issue with is this one:

" I would be a little nervous about spending 10k for something that has very little support. "

No, there is not a Xebra dealer on every corner, but if you know anyone that can put ends on an extension cord, you have a Xebra mechanic. They are soooooo easy to "work" on that most anyone can do it.

ZAP is great about parts support. If you need a part, they will get it to you in a matter of a few days. All schematics are posted on the net and we have a great owner support site here:

If you need to speak to someone about a Xebra issue now, go here:

The yahoo Xebra forum is VERY active and you will get an answer to any question in a matter of minutes.

ZAP also has great phone support, but they are so easy to troubleshoot that we can answer and technical question on the forum faster than you can dial the phone number to ZAP.

I am not trying to be confrontational, I just think we look at this in two different ways.

To me, the less time ICE stinkers are on the road, the better. It doesn't have to be all the time every time to make a giant difference.

I have 2000 miles on my Xebra and have had no problems what so ever.

If you would like to know the truth about Xebras, go to . Real owners will give you real answers.

Mark Higley

They are here and they don't even know it.

Mark Higley

They are here and they don't even know it.

jason's picture

I say, "Prove it".

Show me the documentation that provides evidence that these new scooters, and this new company, are US DOT approved and can be registered to ride on US state roads, or street legal.

Show me a customer who actually owns one of these who has registered their scooter with their state's DMV.

Show me the Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO) with the new company listed and the correct VIN, registered to the owner in the US.

I will happily update my blog with the new information if this is the case.

- jason

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