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Running on Fumes

Vectrix Electric Scooter in Dire Straits

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Vectrix was one of the most well known firms in the burgeoning electric two-wheeled realm, with interest in alternative energy and low-carbon transportation never more en vogue and celebrities like Jay Leno and Leonardo DiCaprio both paying customers. Yet now the Rhode Island-based electric scooter start-up is on the verge of bankruptcy, having cut 60 jobs and teetering on total collapse as it scrambles for a possible buyout.
2009 Vectrix Vx-1
The 2009 Vx-1 Vectrix scooter is an electric-powered scooter that won't see the sales floor unless the cash-strapped firm gets some serious financial help.

So what spelled the end of Vectrix?

Portland Examiner columnist David Herron, answers the Vectrix question in his three-part column - Why Vectrix is Teetering on Bankruptcy. Herrin outlines three key decisions that cost money and precipitated the company’s decline: Unsuccessfully developing a lithium-ion battery (lithium-ion being the de facto battery for the current electric motorcycle world, while Vectrix sourced Nickel Metal Hydride batteries), replacing executive management at CEO and CFO, and expanding its American dealer network instead of focusing on the European market.

The Vectrix collapse begs a number of questions for the electric motorcycle development:

Will other electric start-ups suffer a similar fate? (Brammo and Zero Motorcycles are already in production or ramping up for it. Others like Mission Motors are still getting a production-worthy prototype out the door.)

Has the Vectrix failure sapped consumer confidence in purchasing from a start-up company rather than waiting for an established OEM to develop its own electric model distributed through familiar dealerships? (Honda is on the record promising a production electric motorcycle, and rumors speculate Yamaha may beat Big Red to the punch. There are also reports that BMW, still stinging from its C1 scooter flop, is developing an electric-powered scooter…)

The only certain lesson gained from Vectrix’s troubles, is that survival in the new green economy, like every other industry, will requires the bottom-line “green” of cold hard cash.
Post Tags: Vectrix Scooter, Vectrix Bankruptcy
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Comments
Ralph -Vectrix August 18, 2009 11:00 AM
Came upon your article after having read about Vectrix' demise in a Dutch motorcycle magazine. These are pivotal times in the whole 'personal transportation' industry. A lot of eco-entrepreneurs come up with alternatives that don't make sense business-wise or from a consumer standpoint (still too expensive). You really need to favor electric propulsion 'an sich' if you want to drive a Tesla or Vectrix scooter. I am presently working on the so-called Space-Efficient Vehicle project. Narrow track vehicles have many advantages: superior fuel economy, lower emissions, new design perspectives, and lean production potential. Plus superior range if equipped with an electric motor and batteries. This 'not a small car nor a giant motorcycle' is more comfortable (long wheelbase), more energy-efficient (shape), more practical (3 seats) as well as safer (layout) and better handling than a Smart ForTwo. And that car is already out there! There's more info and pictures you can click on at http://www.michelinchallengedesign.com/MCD_2008/Site/mcd_gallery_2008/mcd_2008_gallery_d13.asp
Tim B -Congrats! July 31, 2009 09:24 AM
Aww...cough, cough. Sorry, I mean AWESOME! The more deaths of companies that produce electric vehicles the better! Sadly, I'm sure somebody will buy this flavor-of-the-decade company and try to keep it afloat. Electric vehicles are not the end of our energy and emissions problems and it bothers me that people can't see this. Electric vehicles should be called "black" rather than "green" because of all the harmful effects caused by the production of electricity while using coal and the manufacturing and disposal of some types of batteries. "So what spelled the end of Vectrix?" Nobody wants slow, boring vehicles except for short-sighted "environmentalists" and hippies. True environmentalists realize batteries are not the answer. "Will other electric start-ups suffer a similar fate?" Hopefully. See the reasons above.
Scootin' Ron -Electric isn't quite there yet July 30, 2009 04:32 AM
About a year and a half ago I went to the International Motorcycle Show and I rode a Vectrix. I also had the chance to ride a Kymco with similar performance. I was impressed with the build quality of the Vectrix and thought it was more fun to ride than the Kymco. However, I couldn't give the Vectrix keys back fast enough when I found out it would cost twice as much as the Kymco while having a tiny range per charge. When it is possible to make an electric scooter of motorcycle with range and performance similar to a gas powered vehicle, while at the same time not having to pay a huge penalty for going green, the technology will truly have arrived and be ready for mass consumption.