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.
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.
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