XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

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ecoelectric
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XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

I have been ghosting here for many months, following the comments and frustrations of many of you as you received your MX3500's and discovered issues. These are mostly, I am sure, part of the process of working with Mountain Chen and getting the bugs out. I am working with some other investors and we are looking to start retailing these larger scooters but with all the various issues, it seems like any retail dealership will have its hands full fixing batteries, installing battery load balancers, fixing damage from crates, incorrectly installed brake calipers, and so on. In short, all the margin to succesfully make a profit will be eaten up on repairing all these little issues and every bike will require extensive quality control checks, battery conditioning, etc. Even if we use Extreme or go direct.

I would like to open up discussions with anyone else that is looking to ultimately start retailing these babies. The concept is great, but knowing what needs to be invested in marketing, retail space, staff, etc., I think it is important that we only move forward once the bikes are delievered mostly bug-free and ready for prime time with the retail market.

Any comments on the suitability for these for retail or their experiences with actually selling and then supporting (what about returns, complaints of component failures, or great reports from end-user buyers?) these? The regular retail buyers are not going to spend the money and then have to partially rebuild their new machines. They are going to expect a reliable reasonable quality out of the box and they won't ususally have the great technical knowledge that I have seen here working on the fixes. One thing about US consumers is that they all want plug and play with no waiting.

We'd like to meet anyone else that is planning on this and perhaps we can work together and get some traction toward critical mass for getting the market interested, if the ready for retail issues can be overcome.

Great work with the forum.... it has been a life saver with our business plan.

bermurray
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

I too was pretty gung-ho about the idea of retailing these bikes. I bought the XB-600 and have had tremendous fun with it. I’ve experienced only minor issues.

The problem as I see it is that X-treme’s margins are set too low. I understand that selling them through the Internet led to this, under the assumption that people would accept the low price and do their own warranty servicing and quality control. What you see from these forums is the customer carries the expectation that they get a high quality product that needs no service.

Now you step in as a dealer. You assemble and check out each bike and do all the warranty work and maybe the customer is happy. But when he finds he can buy it on the Internet for $300 or $400 less he gets angry with the dealer.

It’s a no win situation. The only thing that makes any sense is to set up a new brand and create a dealer network. I go back to the old Cushman and Taylor-Dunn days with electric vehicles. We had relays and resistors the size of your fist, and after that SCR controllers. They had a dealer network that maintained pricing and offered service after the sale. With a new brand you wouldn’t have people complaining about the price so much.

From what I can tell, Vectrix has had a strong dealer presence and some of the dealers do excellent service work. Sadly, you still see a lot of whining and a customer’s experience is only as good as his dealer’s efforts.

I’d love to see a new brand created and would like to have the Colorado/Wyoming territory (protected, of course).

Bernie Murray
extremeelectrics.com
Denver, Colorado

XB-600

MikeB
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

An interesting question.

Just to add another thought: I just placed an order for an EVD LFP from rmartinbikes.com. They offered me a discounted price since I was not near a retail dealership, with the understanding that I would provide my own labor for any service issues. I thought this was a reasonable way to compete with the internet-only drop-ship dealers, since the cost of local support is clearly identified to the consumers. Personally, I know many people who would be willing to spend a few hundred extra in order to know the bike would be supported, and others who would rather save a few bucks and do it themselves.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

reikiman
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

Good points all...

An interesting thing to ponder is ... what is the motivating factor for someone to make a posting here? Are they motivated by "I had another flawless ride on my FB9400 scooter"? Nope. Having a broken scooter is a great motivating factor so it seems likely the discussion on the forum is going to be skewed towards those who are having problems.

Your perception of problems could be skewed by the discussion on the forum (which is skewed towards those having problems).

andys
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

The facts are that compared to name brand ICE scooters on the market today, these Chinese made E-scooters are not very reliable yet. Its not just that only complainers post. As a matter of fact, I see post that "I haven gone 500 KM, and it is still works fine"

People here are early adopters and willing to put up with these problems to a point. Every new model that comes out, people get excited and hope they will be better than the previous ones, and in fact I think they probably are. They still have a way to go yet.

I wouldn't want to sell them yet either though--too many issues for the money you'd likely make.

MikeB
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

An interesting thing to ponder is ... what is the motivating factor for someone to make a posting here? Are they motivated by "I had another flawless ride on my FB9400 scooter"? Nope. Having a broken scooter is a great motivating factor so it seems likely the discussion on the forum is going to be skewed towards those who are having problems.

You've got a point, but I've participated in yahoo groups for the Honda Reflex and Honda Silverwing scooters for a number of years. The Honda scooters are very well designed, and very well built. The discussion on those forums are almost entirely focused on rides, accessories, customization, and routine maintenance. The perceived failure rate is very low, even in a place where people do come to talk about any problems they have. I know of a couple Silverwings with over 100k miles on them, which is an amazing number for any type of scooter.

I think it's clear that these Chinese-based electrics are not really in the same league as the big name Japanese companies. The money you save up front with a cheaper bike can often be lost once you own and maintain the bike for a few years.

That doesn't mean these bikes aren't ready for retail, just that it's not going to be easy. I think it's important to understand the risks going in, rather than having false expectations, and that applies both to the retailer and to any potential customers.

My electric vehicle: CuMoCo C130 scooter.

jdh2550_1
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

I too came close to starting a retail based business. Direct import and a unique brand largely solves the margin problem. My partners and I were expecting to solve some of the bugs with the bike during a much more detailed pre-delivery inspection and fitting or upgrading certain components. That would solve most of the reliability issue. Having ones own brand and a more controlled dealer network could address customer relationships and would stop people being able to buy direct cheaper (for our branded bikes - and we'd aim to build brand loyalty because of that superior PDI process).

However, the problem that we couldn't really find a viable solution for was supply chain reliability. There alwbays seems to be big delays in delivery and unexpected changes to product specifications. So, trying to plan a profitable venture became untenable for us. So, we're no longer planning on the import-to-retail model.

But we're not giving up. We're looking to solve the supply issues in a different way. If we can, then that will be great. If not then we're back to square one. For those of you who have been around a while my posts on the "Hypothetical Electric Scooter Company" is becoming a little less hypothetical. It's early days - but things are moving in the right direction.

None of these approaches are new news.

Nova Scooters bought 40 or so bikes with the intention of making them better then selling them (much like our initial plans on making XM3500's better). They now seem to be concentrating more on leveraging their contacts in Asia to help define a new product. Not sure how big a role they have had in the design or will have in the distribution - but it all sounds very interesting. He's invited folks in Northern Virginia to stop by and independently verify the bike.

EVCUSA.COM (the volta guys) appear to be taking the "let's design our own bike on a different glider using readily available components" approach. I'm not sure what's holding them up, or where they plan final production to take place.

Electric Motorsport appears to be doing the same as EVCUSA and getting bikes fully assembled abroad. I think they're also in the "real soon now" camp but my impression is they're the closest to crossing the finish line.

The good news is that there seems to be plenty of folks who are trying to figure out profitable ways into the market - all I suspect with the intent of making it more of a main stream experience rather than the early adopter experience which it is now.

So, don't give up hope! :-)

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.

ecoelectric
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

You have an excellent point. I guess it would be nice to hear more information from those buyers that have had good experiences. I guess that one of the factors that scares the bejesus out of us from a support / dealer standpoint is the kind of things that are reported. Its not just a part broken in shipping, its a complete lack of a load balance system or the disk brake need to be completely re manufactured, etc. I don't think we would be near as concerned with something like a cosmetic part broken in shipping. At the end of the day, these machines have the potential to be wonderful but it is not going to make financial sense for anyone, manufacturer or seller, unless a real market for them is created and fed. That won't happen unless the quality of the product is there. No parent is going to put their kid on a moto with a partially functioning brake. No adult is going to buy one of these for zipping around to the beach and visiting his / her friends unless the darn thing is pretty much maintenance free. Us craftsman / tinkerers enjoy the 'art" of working them and improving them, but for any kind of mass market appeal - which will end up lowering prices and provide cash flow to further upgrade and improve the product, will require that hands-off ability. It seems that that Mountain Chen has the right idea and is close... if they can address the concerns posted in these forums we would like to get another demo bike and put it through its paces and see if we have a winner!

Kurt von Strasser
EcoElectric Motors / Park Avenue Ventures
Newport Beach, CA

sgmdudley
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

To illustrate some of the above.

I have been doing independant Electric Scooter repairs for several months now.

One of the problems I have had is binding brake rotors. Yesterday I fixed a scooter that had this symptom
that was resolved the same as another one I worked on a few months ago. The rear rotor is held to the
aluminum motor housing with three rotor bolts. I checked the runout of the rotor with a dial indicator and
had 0.034" warp. I checked the three bolt holes and two of them were not tapped all the way. The bolts were
not seating against the rotor. I used a bottoming tap and chased the threads all the way. After reinstalling
the wheel, the runout is now 0.006". This is a defect in manufacturing. Poor machining.

Robert Dudley
E-Scoot Tech

ecoelectric
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

I have seen this crop up on the forum several times and personally experienced it with our first demo. Not good as the amount of time and effort to do this for every scooter kind of makes retail impossible. Machining issues are a major concern. On the other side of the coin we have vectrix and EVC at $10k. If Mountain Chen could deliver a bike that has these issued fixed and we can verify it, and sell it at $4500, we might have something that works for retail. But what retail buyer would want to buy a bike and then have to retap the bolt holes and fix this? Most can't figure out how to program their VCR and its still flashing 12:00. :)

Kurt von Strasser
EcoElectric Motors / Park Avenue Ventures
Newport Beach, CA

Newbieman5
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

Hello all Im new to the forum, I been looking into the purchase of a XM 3500 are you guys saying I should delay or avoid as a retail customer?
And if I buy what steps or farkles would you recommend to make a reliable daily commuter. (Seen a few post but no comprehensive list yet) Impressed with the idea concerned but about the quality.
Are you really saying to me the retail customer they are not ready?
If so seems we need more data to see current defect levels, and trend the data, and benchmark it against industry standard ADL of other model launches. If theses people are selling 1000's of scooters as they say where is the data, I am optimistic and hope they are happy customers with no system to document their feedback. (Hmmm IDK is something amiss?;) Maybe I'm asking too much too early.

Thanks in advance for your input.

The FNG

ecoelectric
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Re: XM3500Li Not Ready For Retail?

That is a good question. If I were in your place and wanted to use this emoto for my self, I would certainly take the time to thourghly read through the posts on the 3500 so at least I would know what I might need to do myself on the bike as far as any defects or issues that others have faced. I do believe that each subsequent shipment may have improvements, but from what I have seen here, you have to be ready to do some home craftsman stuff. The issue of having a trouble free bike out of the box is exactly what I am raising here on this thread. Ask some others with the latest shipment and see what they have to say.

Kurt von Strasser
EcoElectric Motors / Park Avenue Ventures
Newport Beach, CA

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