Thursday morning, at about 7:30, we sold our last available Renault Influenza/Better Place battery pack.
Wow. Whoops. Or aw-shit. I’m not certain which is more appropriate. But people with publishing experience should NOT dabble in retail sales. That’s clear.
We apparently mispriced the Better Place packs rather eggregiously. I hoped to pretty much clear these out in a month. We actually raised teh price on them to cover the unexpected storage chargers we encountered in Newark. And I rather innocently thought we would move a few this week at $3600 – which is kind of a magic number. $150 per kWh. We would run this “special” until Friday noon.
Thursday morning at 7:30 AM I am greeted with an out of stock message on the online store system and a hysterical Brian Thompson demanding I sell him a battery pack, Siemens motor, and controller. As we had held a few back, I told him ok – I would add one to the stock shown on the store and he could grab it. We did so. He missed. Somebody grabbed it in the few seconds he delayed.
So I had Brain call him and complete the sale by phone.
In truth, we’re not sure how many we’ve sold and how many we have left. We had of course planned to hold a few back anyway. I want to use two on the DOKA project, which by the way, is out for paint to the same guy who did the VW THING. It will be painted the same color. And we want to hold two to break down for the individual modules. We’ll make them available at some ridiculously high price. The packs were sold with no support and no warranty, let me be clear. But inevitably, somebody will need 50 modules for their build instead of 48, and some bad modules will be found I have no doubt. We have to have a few on hand to make people well.
Yesterday, Brian and I were both here working like madmen. Now it should be pretty easy. Get on the web site and order the product, enter a credit card or paypal, and batta boom batta bing. Easy for you. Easy for us. The software keeps track of the inventory. We sit back and watch the cash register ring. Put together the add-ons and label the boxes.
For some reason, life isnt’ like that. And it’s amazing to me the number of variations on a theme that people can come up with. But it is largely a limitation of our software. I need to be able to have a NO SHIPPING option or a WILL CALL option on the billing software. Incredibly, the software we use just doesn’t allow it. One guy wanted to overnight a check. Welcome to 2014. I’ve asked Christopher Fisher to look into a program called MAGENTO to see about moving our store to some more advanced software. But it will be a nightmare and take months of course.
I know many look forward to the Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention scheduled for AUGUST 12-17, 2014 right here at EVTV in Cape Girardeau Missouri. What you may not be aware of is a secret pre-convention we are calling BATTCON 2014 which we have apparently scheduled, without my exact knowledge aforehand, for March 7-8, 2014 right here at EVTV in Cape Girardeau. This Friday/Saturday event promises lots of fun for a number of people driving in to pick up their Better Place battery packs in trucks, trailers, and Saturns. We know Adam and Phil Becker, Brian Couchene, probably Mark Wiesheimer and potentially several othes will be joining us for as Jehu Garcia so aptly put it last August, eat some food, drink some beer, have some sessions…then eat some more food, drink some more beer, have some sessions… Mahwn dahwn. Free coke for the kids!
So the dynamic yesterday was an almost constantly ringing phone from people with questions, concerns, and wanting a little love. And a steady stream of e-mail inquiries, from people with questions, concerns, and wanting a little love. One solar dealer in Australia was incensed that we wouldn’t sell him 10 of them.
And truthfully, the sale did exactly what I wanted it to do. It pushed a LOT of people off the fence who also wanted Siemens or HPEVS motors, controllers, chargers, etc. So we’re not at all complaining. It is spurring builds.
But what we DON’T want to have happen is to have 72 Better Place Battery packs, and in a natural effort to please, sell 79 of them. Because there aren’t any more to be had. Anne we know has already sold about 17 of his 10 we alloted him for Europe. I actually caught our trophy secretary, Phyllis, putting a tag on one box for a guy from Ireland who just demanded to buy direct and insisted she put one on hold for him.
Sorry Vincent. Phyllis is kind of like Lonnie Anderson on teh old sitcom WKRP IN CINCINNATI. She doesn’t actually do filing, dictation, or phone work. She’s just here to look gorgeous and sit out front.
We didn’t do ANY direct sales to Europe. You have to go through Anne, because he has a slow boat to move em that will take five weeks to get there. BUT it is already Hazmat approved with a logistics company that knows how to do this. Understand that shipping lithium batteries at ALL has become vastly more complicated than it was just six months ago, and they are announcing new restrictions weekly. We actually pay $724 per year now for a 24 hour answering service that can answer questions about our battery chemistries from UPS truck drivers who have wrecked their rigs. And we further have to buy stickers with the phone number on it for each shipment.
Bottom line is that I’m a little lost on what Brian agreed to yesterday, and he’s a little lost on what I agreed to yesterday. We’re meeting this morning of course to sort it out. But the bottom line is we’re sold out. Hopefully not “and then some” because we have no way to get well on that. If I wind up with six spares instead of four, I’ll live with it. If mine are gone and I need two more, not so good.
The entire evolution couldn’t have happened at a WORSE time for poor Anne. He has spent the week, all day every day on his feet, at one of Europe’s largest boat shows promoting his “New Electric” line of boats. Meanwhile, I’m forwarding about 120 e-mails to him from people in Europe who want the Better Place packs. He gets 10. Collect em, trade em with your friends. When he originally said he woudl take 10, I know he thought he was going WAY out on limb for his people this time. By Monday he wanted 20. And I had to explain the meaning of life and the riot act of 1934 to him on that one.
But I think that may work out for him. Check out the BLING in these two photos taken at the boat show. And check out that shined up PAINT JOB on that gorgeous little red boat.
I have no actual report and cannot in any event say if the show was a success for him with the European nautical crowd. I CAN tell you it was with me. I immediately ordered a Delta from him – without electricals of course. We’re going to first make me one, and then probably carry them in the store and import them from Holland to the U.S. I think it’s just gorgeous. And I think I can cure the growl or at least tone it down. And I think the Siemens motor will make that thing purr. If it doesn’t, a Hauber Siemens Siemese will turn it into a low flying amphibious airplane which I know how to fly. We’re hoping for a proper prop for ours though. We’ll offer the bare boat at $23K, and a fully blown electric powered model at probably $40-$45k. If he hustles, we can have it put together for EVCCON. It will be kind of like he brought his boat to the show.
I’ve always told him- FROM Amsterdam: go west to the Gulf of Mexico. Turn right onto the Mississippi River. North to the Bill Emerson bridge. We’re the first house on the left.
For all those who were arranging funds and wanting to purchase a battery pack, I am truly sorry. I wish I had 200 of them at this point. Bad call on the pricing (duh – really?).
For all the wives who were helping their husbands “consider the pros and cons.” You are perilously close to losing your situation beyond what you can possibly know. You ARE replaceable whatever he tells you. Take my advice. Don’t say ANYTHING and don’t move. Just freeze for about a week. Not a word. Not an eyelash. Don’t apologize. Just freeze. It will of course blow over. He’s a little like me – the attention span of a four-year-old. Something else shiny will come along….it will be ok. In the meantime, if you don’t move, he actually can’t see you. They can’t see color. They only react to motion.
Long term, probably a good outcome. By demonstrating we can move the iron, and in this case in rather dramatic fashion, inevitably we will attract the notice of others looking to dispose of things. We don’t do it as a public service. Omer profited handsomely on these packs and we did as well. The trick was the distressed liquidation. And I’m hopeful by successfully doing one, with all parties happy with the outcome, that we become attractive to others who need to dispose of a large quantity of useful components.
This was what I was referring to earlier with regards to collective buying power. As you demonstrate a cohesive market, this will attract bling. I have already heard from an Italian entrepreneur in China who has somehow happened into 300,000 of the individual pouch cells. They are “B” grade seconds – discards essentially, and do not have the CAN modules and he wants more than we were charging for these FOB China. Not a good value proposition by any measure. But as time wears away and the pile sits, he might have a change of heart. The Renault packs were unsalable at $10K and probably unsalable at $6K. But at some price, they can be moved. Every dog has his day.
For those that did move swiftly and decisively – congratulations. I think you stole em. And I hope you use them to build the most gorgeous electric cars ever finished by human hands – to the undying envy of your annoying brother-in-law, your know-it-all boss, and that idiot neighbor with the yappy dog. Rub their noses in it. Its’ the only way you can teach them not to crap on the lawn.
And we’ll see some of you at BATTCON 2014. Maybe we’ll make this an annual battery closeout event. Anyone that wants to stop by, it looks like open house on Friday and Saturday, whether we want it to be or not.