Who I am:
Before I get right into the Z-20 saga I should probably let everyone know where I am coming from. I have been interested in Alt Fuel/Electric Vehicles for about 8 years now, right after I decided to sell my very polluting but very cool 1972 Datsun 510 Coupe. I replaced the low-riding Smoke Monster with a much greener Compressed Natural Gas van, which turned out to be a lemon. Hoping for a green but more worry free vehicle, I finally I ended up buying a Civic Hybrid in 2003, before their prices skyrocketed. At the time, my purchase was sufficient to answer that voice in my head that kept asking, "what are you doing to help the environment?" The hybrid seemed to a sufficient response to the question and remained so until recently. Now, my present views on the global warming situation has caused me to draw into question even my use of a hybrid vehicle. So, with the hopes I could move to zero emissions instead of just low emissions I started looking for an electric car. Unfortunately, as there are few affordable four wheeled choices, I decided to explore the two wheel option, which brings me to the Z-20...
For some people the quest for the Great Z-20 started well over a year ago, but for me it has only been since August, 2007. I looked at all the other choices on the market, Evader, Zapino, XM-2000, and I found that on the surface most of the bikes seemed to be pretty comparable. What really stood out for me about EVT America, the manufacturer of the Z-20, was the claim that the bike could reach 45 mph. This top speed would enable me to cross the Golden Gate Bridge without being a hazard to the other drivers. Another big selling point for me was the range of 30-45 miles on a charge. That range is far enough that I could pretty much get anywhere in the Bay Area on a single charge, especially since you can take the Z-20 on the BART train. The combination of a great top speed and a considerable range would give me enough transportation freedom that I might be able to get rid of my car. On top of all the great attributes of the bike was its cost of only $1,999, a most wonderful introductory price. So, after ruling out the XM-2000 based on negative feedback from people on this board, and the Vectrix because it just isn’t worth what you pay, I decided on the Z-20.
Send the Money, Things Get Funny
EVTA has a history of changing their mind. My first experience with EVTA’s waffling behavior was when they extended of the introductory price for an extra 30 days. You see, I scrambled to get the deposit together and I sent my waiting list packet 2-day FedEx to make sure that I didn’t miss out on the introductory price. I was fairly stressed out about getting my package in on time. To find out that they extended it was pretty irritating, but hey, so it goes. Unfortunately, as several people have on this board have mentioned, this was not the first time that EVTA has said one thing and then did another. My initial opinion was that I didn’t think that EVTA was very professional. This wasn't something that I was necessarily mad about, but instead it helped me set my perspective on the company. EVTA is not Honda, they are not even Kia (boo Kia!), they are a pair of brothers who decided they want to build a electric motorcycle. Are they a pair of business juggernauts who are going to transform the electric vehicle industry? Well, it definitely doesn’t look that way at this stage in the game. Anyhow, let me get back to the point, after I sent my money I was expecting a few more snafus, especially since they hadn’t finished designing the bike. I did not expect however, that there would be quite so many missed promises. I was told I should expect the bike in October. Then November. Then definitely by Christmas. They only missed the initial promise to me by three and months. Not too shabby right? Ha. You now ask, why did you decide to buy the bike after so many missed deadlines? I’m glad you asked.
One of the few things that EVTA has done well during this entire process, and keep in mind that I am only focusing on my experience, is that they have always responded in a timely fashion to my questions and concerns. During the whole waiting game many technical concerns were raised by members of this forum as to what buyer could actually expect of the product. Every time an issue was raised I went straight to EVTA to find out the “truth.” Every question was answered with a quick reply. All of my concerns were answered and there was always a detailed explanation as to why they were not able to hit their deadlines. This type of responsiveness goes a really long way when my biggest concern was, “what happens when it breaks?” In this way I figured that if something went wrong I had the piece of mind to know that they would make an effort to fix it.
Good Luck, Bad Luck
I often ask myself the following when it comes to EVTA. How many of the problems are simply just bad luck and how many stem from bad business management? I fully believe that the 9 dead bikes from the 24 shipped to the East Coast was primarily the result of poor shipping. This is pretty damn unlucky considering the effort EVTA put into “designing” a quality shipping crate. On the other hand I don't think that luck had much to do with the extended shipping delays. I will agree with USATracy that EVTA should have foreseen the Walmart domination of the shipping market during Christmas that caused serious delays. That is, they should have had the foresight to see this problem if they were experienced international businessmen. Again, my bet is that they aren’t. Virtually every problem that hasn’t resulted from bad luck I believe comes from the fact that this is EVTA’s first venture and they aren’t as business savvy as the average consumer would like them to be. I've chosen to live with it and I hope that they get better at it.
Two Guys Trying to Do the Right Thing and Get a Few Dollars Too
Please keep in mind that a lot of what I have to say is speculation based on my own particular experience. I encourage the reader to explore the wide variety of opinion that exists on this forum. When it comes down to it I see EVTA as a pair of brothers who are trying to do what many of us dream about, starting a business from the ground up with nothing more than passion and hard work. Their technical knowledge is likely sufficient to build a bike, but probably not all that innovative. They definitely have little to no capital, which accounts for the need for such a substantial deposit. Considering the baseline that they probably started with, I am pretty impressed. As a blind consumer on the other hand, I wouldn’t be all that pleased. They’ve missed deadlines and failed to deliver on promises. I’m happy that I have the visibility that I do because I know with great certainty that EVTA cares about what they do and that they want their customers to be satisfied. What this means is that every consumer needs to be vocal and EVTA needs to stay responsive. I do not doubt that EVTA will improve with time and I believe it is our constructive feedback on their product that will be integral to their success. I will support them in their efforts as long as they continue to support me as a customer.
Hey, I Need Customer Support!
As it stands presently I am satisfied with my Z-20b. I am satisfied, but my expectations still have not been met. The website tells me that the bike has a range of 30 to 45 miles on a charge. What this means to me is that the bike should get no less than 30 miles to a charge. I have now had two occasions where my range was 23 miles and then 20 miles. I expect an explanation or a way to fix this “problem.” The website also tells me that my top speed is 45 mph. My bike does not go faster than 40 mph. I expect an explanation or a way to fix this “problem.” While it was not published on their website, I was told by EVTA that the bike could get up to a 40 mile range at 45 mph. I expect an explanation or a way to fix this “problem.” Lastly, I was told by EVTA that my bike should not stall when I go full throttle from a stop. I expect an explanation or a way to fix this “problem.” I received a prompt reply from Fernando about my concerns and that he was going to forward them on to Andy. Thus far 3 days have passed and I still haven’t heard from Andy.
EVTA, I like you guys, but you need to answer my concerns if you plan on keeping my support.
A Small Request
I have a small fantasy that this thread be just about my personal experience with the Z-20 and EVT America. I have had a relatively good experience with EVTA and I'd like to show people what might be considered a "best case scenario." It would be great if any technical debates could happen on a different thread, but of course this is a free forum, so hey, do whatcha like. Oh yeah, I welcome all questions and and thanks for reading.