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Why did Vectrix fail?
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I agree, Mik, it is really impossible to separate the impact of corporate management from the products production defects. However, I was trying to answer those passionate owners, who love the product, but feel that anyone criticising the corporate management is automatically denigrating the product.
Would the Vectrix V1 have been a technically superior product if produced by, say Honda or BMW? Who knows? But we can say for sure, that the production qualities and service plan would have been infinitely superior. Honda (or any major)would also have been working on an improved Vectrix V2 before the V1 was released!
But the truth is no major manufacturer, at that time of Vectrix conception, was willing to produce such a product. It is sad, but this is usually the way, the pioneer product/marques are usually only found in museums or anorak club enthusiast swap meets, while the late coming corporate giant capitalises on the effort of the pioneer. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and Vectrix had its chances to amalgamate with major corporations, which would have seen the product survive and improve. VCorp's choice to continue to sail alone, cheered by a band of paranoid, capitalist-hating supporters, with ole Captain Queeg in command, meant it was inevitable doomed to sink on the iceberg of insolvency!
The really sad think is that the very people who should be the most angry at the gross mismanagement of the VCorp are secretly pleased that it failed, as it confirms all their idiotic conspiracy theories.
Ah well, what might have been?
Let me tell you a short history. About 30 years ago, my ex- wife and me use to go to a pub in Argentina, called 'La Brujula' ("compass"). It was a very old house where each room was modified as a bar or mini- restaurant. The music (remember, Argentina, 30 years ago, in a small province) was mostly "Police" with "Roxanne" and "Doo doo doo de da da da".
Well, my friends were always laughing about that music. Why Roxanne is singing doo-doo while walking on the moon wrapped in my finger?
So I told'em: wait 20 years and then you'll see. Well, then I was right.
No doubt that electric vehicles are the future. We just not ready for that already. None the needed technology.
When I bought the V I felt like buying one of those heavy, ugly and ilogical expensive old plasma TVs. It is always the same with the new technologies. There are prototypes and people (like us) that are ready to bet and also enjoy.
I've just come back from Switzerland: metros are electrical. The power still come from the wires. So probably the only tech gap is the battery. I'm pretty sure that in 3 to 5 years something else will come up.
Then, I'll put "Police" full volume again...
I have been a Vectrix owner and reader of this forum for only a week now, but I have done a lot of reading here and around in that time. What is apparent is that someone bet the farm that this bike was ready for full production, and large volume sales before it really was. IMHO the bike was probably released worldwide one or two years before it should have been. I think the major changes in the software show this to be the case. As it is now, it seems like a fairly high percentage owners have had problems. If they had sold a ton of bikes that would have sunk the company anyway.
I have read of at least three or four examples where they actually exchanged the bike. You can't be exchanging bikes on the other side of the world just because it blew a main fuse. That makes no sense and imagine the expense involved, or to send a tech to someone's house. I mean how often have you heard of a car company exchanging a car before it was even looked at by a tech, or even sending a mechanic to your house? They should have concentrated sales around a small area, like a major city and sold maybe 50 beta bikes (at discount) or so and all had them come back to the same spot so their engineers could monitor what was going on and make the necessary adjustments before doing general sales. I think it is evident that doing warranty repairs would be sinking the company in the future even if they had survived.
As far as the bike, I am very impressed with the overall product. That they were able to get as far as they did is pretty amazing. At one time they knew how to stay lean and mean (shown by the fact the company was around 10 years or so before it released product). However, you can't be selling new 2007 bikes in 2009. Obviously, there was very poor corporate planning to produce more bike than you can sell. Why they would set up two assembly lines before it was clear that sales of the bike would take off is beyond me.
In regards to the actual bike, the biggest problem I see is that the battery is not removable or serviceable by the owner. And yes it probably needed a better battery management system. Ultimately, the battery issues means that owners need to be near dealers with trained techs. However, since that is tough at times, they should have not sold bikes to everyone, or they should have freely and readily distributed info about battery servicing.
Once they had a great product, everything else like advertising, etc would have followed, but you can't put one before the other.
I agree ! Maybe I'm a bit slow, but after reading all the posts from Vectrix Owners desperate for Johns knowledge, or Mik's carefully detailed research and experience, the reason Vectrix Failed becomes obvious.
An example of this is AndY I's post of 15 May, "BATHOT during riding, but the battery fans won't start during the ride - why not?" Now this post was in May, and his problems are still unresolved! the only help he has received is from other forum members, Vectrix is silent. Even his beloved Vectrix UK?, haven't actually solved the problem.
I'll admit that there are perhaps a limited number of enthusiasts and true believers, who are prepared to rebuild their bikes and love to tinker, but outside of these people, Vectrix had to sell to consumers who expected that since the bike price was priced in the same category as Honda, BMW, Mercedes and Lexus, the reliability and after-sales service, would be of the same standard! I am not an engineer! I am a consumer,and I expect to encounter from Vectrix the same standard of after sales service, or better, than I do with the hybrid technology of my Lexus.
Vectrix was not designed, priced or sold as a kit or hobbyist product. If this was an ICE, the consumer complaints would have driven the product of the market two years ago.
This is what really makes me angry with Vectrix Corporate management, they took all that goodwill, early tolerance and support,(Oh, and nearly $500 million) and pissed it down the drain.
Why fanatical supporters, forgive and excuse Vectrix management, is beyond my comprehension! This was the best funded, best engineering resourced, highest profile, EV company to date. It should have succeeded! Vectrix was a business, it had to deliver a high standard of professional competence! It's management failed it's customers and investors miserably. Why do so many defend Vectrix Corp, even though it betrayed them?
I hope the answer is that the love of Ev's is so strong that even failures like this will not deter customers from EV purchase in the future. Those who enjoyed the V1, were so captivated by the products potential, they just can't grasp the corporate failure. I understand that feeling, I own and love two classic Jaguars, these are totally impractical cars, but I still lavish a huge amount of time and money on them! Why,? love not logic! But I am not so enamoured that I would try to pretend British Leyland were a competent or quality manufacturer, or that a pre-Ford Jaguar wasn't an unreliable service nightmare for anyone foolish enough to buy one new!
With all due respect to Mik and all the others whose valuable contributions are so helpful, their effort should never have been necessary. Vectrix should have dealt with the problems immediately. If the aftersales service had been the same standard as the glossy website, they may still have been in business.
I have to correct you about my problem.
My problem was resolved and I got a new battery under warranty repair. I posted this on Wednesday.
My first battery failed prematurely because:
1. Front battery fan wasn't working when I got the bike - new. That caused overheating of the front battery pack and with that a gradual deterioration of the pack with each charge/discharge cycle. Back then, I wasn't aware, that there are 2 battery fans. I heard A FAN and I thought everything was ok. I left it charge through the night, following a deep discharge and that was the beginning of the end, because the front pack overheated a lot more than 50'C and the rear battery pack had much lower temperature - a lot different pack capacities. Even though the air plenum was replaced 2 weeks later, this couldn't stop the deterioration of the whole pack. See point 2 as to why.
2. I still had the old software when I got the bike. Back then, the cut-off Voltage was much lower (108V) than now. Combined with a battery packs of different SOC and capacity - it's a death for the deteriorating pack.
3. With the new software charging cut-off was lowered. I was looking at that last night, at my first charge with the new software. The new charging cut-off Voltage is 2V lower than with the old software. With the old software, my battery pack with lower capacity, got charged much sooner then the normal one and that caused overcharge on the deteriorating pack, causing even further damage to the pack.
New software lowers the charging cut-off and increases discharging cut-off. That is much better for the battery life. In addition - precooling sequence cools down the battery before charging which is also very good for the battery. With the old software, this was impossible and caused to charge the battery above 30'C. By itself, 90kg of metal cools down very slowly.
I'm not going to say, that this is the ultimate cure, because I will have to see how it goes, but the direction they've taken with the new software is much better to extend the battery life as much as possible.
What caused the Vectrix to fail? I don't know about their finance, but in the battery department; it was the old software - causing premature death of an expensive battery and a lack of Quality Control checklist. A malfunctioning fan with a new bike, which costs, let's say 10 EUR, causes a battery failure, which costs 2000-3000 EUR.
Edit: Also, they should have done breaking-in of the battery and equalizing cells just before the bike was given to customer. As Mik pointed out, a customer could have gotten a new bike with very unbalanced cells (whatever the cause), and the first thing to do, the manual said, was to do a deep discharge. With very unbalanced cells and cut-off at 108V with 102 cells, polarity reversal is guaranteed.
Either breaking-in the battery by the dealer is required or battery balancer for all 102 cells.
About everything else, I agree with you completely.
Interesting, I admire your patience,persistence and dedication in studying your Vectrix and it's eccentricities. It's also great, and unselfish, that you share information with your fellow enthusiasts.
But if you look context of my post, you sort of prove my point! What normal consumer buying commuter transport, would bother to acquire all that knowledge? I have read Mik,s encyclopedic detailed dissertations on Vectrix engineering for some time now. (I must confess at first I thought he was a whining nut case,) but I have grown to admire and respect the tremendous passion, expertise and vast knowledge he has been forced to acquire.
My point is, Vectrix owners should not be forced to endure your experience! If you had read my earlier posts, you would find that I actually praised Vectrix UK and dealers for having the highest ratio of satisfied customers. I also stated that of all the Vectrix Senior management Alex Bamberg seemed the most competent and dedicated. However, the V1 should operate with the same reliability and no-fuss operation as the ICE car it replaces. If it requires the sort of energy that you put in to the operation of your transport, it could never find mass-market appeal and acceptance. Nor could any company survive that sort of servicing liability.
Without these factors how could the company ever sell enough bikes to amortise the huge Establishment cost? Vectrix needed to sell approximately 60000 units a year just to break-even on operating costs.
You see, I am not analysing Vectrix on a moral basis, but simply as a business. All the encouragement and faith in the world, could never create those sort of sales figures, not with a product as troublesome and unreliable as Vectrix.
I speak from the experience of an owner of 17 Vectrix V1's!We purchased Vectrix, primarily because of Vectrix representation's as to the economic justification of very low maintenance and little service, over a longer life span that the ICE equivalents. The results, are to say the least disappointing! In reality, the bikes are a nightmare of service problems, (like the old Jaguar when they work right, they are excellent!), but i don't have either the time, knowledge or inclination to spend modifying or fixing Vectrix technology. I don't have to do this with my Lexus, and that's basically why most people are willing to pay a premium.
Vectrix was not marketed as an experimental, enthusiasts, interest but as a fully fledged, consumer ready, transport investment, backed by first class after-sales. It wasn't
Thank you! I was somewhat prepared about upcoming problems and I was prepared to deal with them and risk my time and money, but I take it as a hobby. You're right, that a regular owner would not be prepared to go through all these lengths.
My battery and electrical knowledge comes from an electrical engineer background of my father, who taught me much, as well am from my other hobby, that is Remote Control Electric helicopters. This was me 1 year ago :-)
I've learned a lot more since then and now I have a bigger one :-)
About everything else, I agree with you.
This was posted back on 7/20. It's now 8/11. Is onlytime still alive?
Inquiring minds want to know!
John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.
onlytime is probably dead, taking in account his words.
A good reason why marcopolo seams to be the most credible, he´s still alive and breaking necks (Vectrix UK).
if you mean that Credibility means Dishonesty, than you may be right.
When you accuse people of wrongdoing, you should at least offer evidence. If you have none, your abuse is just makes you foolish, not me.
No worries, the evidence will follow next week!
Where did I heard that before?
All: Please consider reading this post: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/7270-call-civility-and-transparency
John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.
Vectrix failed because of the 50 mile range and the original 13,000 price tag, which made this vehicle simply a toy for some rich EV enthusiasts. I really wanted to buy a Vectrix as soon as they were available, but the high price gave me pause, especially knowing most automobile manufacturers plan on producing EV cars in just a couple of years. I thought my money would be better spent on a full electric car that I would drive on a daily basis with the entire family. The Vectrix would only be a joy ride or maybe a commuter vehicle for myself, used only partially due to the occasional inclement weather. That being said I just purchased my new 2008 silver Vectrix from a Vespa dealer here in Seattle for around $5,500. The deal was just too good for me to pass up even with the possibility of the company going out of business. The company should have concentrated its efforts on it's niche market, urban centers with local laws favoring EVs, and then expanded from there. I am still holding onto the hope that someone will see the value of this product and buy whatever is left of the company. Maybe then with the right management in place they can rise from the ashes. Their product is great and if they can find a way to make money selling them for around 8,000 U.S. then they may have a chance. We can only hope.... - Happily riding on electrons to work everyday it is not raining!
I think you're proving my claim... that it was not the "high" price and "limited" range that made the company fail (assuming it does actually fail and isn't rescued). Instead it was that the company focused on general across the board sales rather than focus on the niche areas where they would get ready adoption.
In most cities I believe that scooters are more widely used than out in the suburbs or rural areas where things are more widely spread out.
The other part of why they failed is the high cost structure of the company - that they lost $$$$'s on every scooter sold - and that factoid is what pushed them towards volume sales.
- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
I can't fault your logic in anyway, except one, without mass-volume sales, how could Vectrix have ever hoped to recover the development cost or achieve unit cost production reductions?
This is the problem facing any would be Vectrix rescuer. Agreed they would not have to pay back the development costs, but a rescuer would still be stuck with a product essentially designed for high volume. The comparison John makes with Cadillac is very valid. Prius only makes a profit because it is underpinned by more humble Toyota products. I am afraid that any rescue attempt, by any entity other than a major manufacturer, including the one being put together by former Vectrix staff and engineers, would also fail eventually. The history of rescues is not good, with the exception of Harley Davidson, most revivals have failed taking even more money with them.
History made you right , Marco.....