Friday, July 17, 2009

Goodbye Vectrix, we hardly knew ye...

When Vectrix first debuted in the US, Scoot! got to test-ride one of the models. Mike picked it up in San Francisco (where he lives) and Josh went up to get it and bring it back so that both he and I could ride it. Unfortunately, because SF is about 45 miles north, the Vectrix wouldn't have been able to make it back on the freeway on one charge. Strike one for the electro-maxi scooter. Sure it was heavy, yes it needed better range, by golly it was expensive. But it was kinda cool and I was very hopeful that they could make a go of it, especially when all of the other electric scooters that we saw maxed out at 28mph and were just cheap Chinese crud.

The Vectrix had some hurdles which it couldn't quite overcome and now DealerNews reports that the company is filing for bankruptcy. In this economy, who isn't feeling a pinch? But Vectrix was price-point challenged with the highest price scooter available (you could buy a Hyundai for less) and it had a product that wasn't essential to the American lifestyle (as is a car). Most Americans see scooters as a second vehicle, for fun jaunts. $10K is a little dear for such a non-essential item, especially when it was limited in rage. If you run out of gas in a combustion engine, you just gas-n-go, but the Vectrix needed about 2 hours of charging to gain any useful range.

Another thing that Vectrix lacked was a large base of early adopters. For some technology items, a loyal group of buyers comes forth and will pay the high price to get the newest technology first. Remember $600 iPhones? But wealthy environmentalists like Leonardo DiCaprio were few and far in between. Many folks probably felt like I did: it was a cool idea, but I would rather wait for a less expensive version with greater range. Unfortunately, Vectrix needed to sell lots more of those initial versions to keep the company going, through revenue and continued investment.

I was hopeful, but when the entire world seems to be in a economic meltdown, there just isn't any room or time to invest in dreams. It's really to bad.


Tim said...

You hit the nail on the head April. Low performance, high price and a pain in the but refuel procedure doomed this project from the start.

Vectrix really was in the perfect position but screwed it up. Imagine in this "green" market if they had produced the cheap and practical electric scoot for say $1000 to $2000. They would be raking in the cash in urban areas I bet.

-april said...

Well, there are electric scooters in the $2k range, but they are speed limited because they are considered electric bicycles. Vectrix did it right by approaching the maxi-scooter market where older men with expendable income would be willing to shell out more money for more performance. However, they just needed to up the range and lower the price. They just didn't have the time to do that, which is unfortunate.