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Published on March 7th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor

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GTR: Electric Scooters with Vectrix

VectrixSean Daily, Green Living Ideas’ Editor-In-Chief, talks with Jeff Morrill, Director of Marketing for Vectrix, about the burgeoning market for high-performance, low-emissions, and fuel efficient 2-wheel electric vehicles.

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Transcript

Sean Daily:
Hi and welcome to Green Talk, a podcast series from
greenlivingideas.com. Green Talk helps listeners in their efforts to
lead more eco friendly lifestyles through interviews with top vendors,
authors and experts from around the world. We discuss the critical
issues facing the global environment today, as well as the
technologies, products and practices that you can employ to go greener
in every area of your life.

Sean Daily: Hey everybody and thanks for listening in as always on
Green Talk Radio from greenlivingideas.com. This is Sean Daily, your
host. Very excited about today’s program because we’re talking about
one of my favorite topics as you know from listening to this program.
If you have listened to the program before, you know that anything
related to electric vehicles and specifically if it has two wheels is a
special, a special interest to me. And today we’re going to be talking
about electric scooters and motorcycles, and I think one of the things
a lot of people that are looking for alternative transportation have
been frustrated by the electrical vehicle market and some of you have
turned to two wheel options, gas powered, because of the higher fuel
efficiency, and I think one of the things most people don’t realize is
that there is a greater pollution aspect of those vehicles, which you
can find out more about the specifics on that on the
greenlivingideas.com site, we actually talked about that. So, you know,
there are new entrants in the market and, both on the motorcycle and
the scooter areas. So my guest to discuss that topic with us today is
Jeff Morrill who is the chief marketing officer at Vectrix, which is
the maker of the world’s first high performance electric two wheel
vehicle. Jeff welcome to the program.

Jeff Morrill: Hi Sean. Thank you, glad to be here.

Sean Daily: Well it’s our pleasure. You know this is a perennial
popular topic with our listeners and we’ve actually spoken on the
program to a number of electrical vehicle manufacturers including Bramo
and Zapp and Zen and so forth, and I think, you know, specifically on
the two wheel side as, which is reflecting also what’s happening on the
four wheel side is there’s been a lot of frustration, a lot of desire,
a consumer desire I think, to have a fully electric vehicle, but not a
lot of availability of product, and certainly not in all the categories
that, that people are looking for. So I was very intrigued to hear what
Vectrix is doing. I guess my first question for you is a little, to
clear up some confusion about is this a motorcycle or a scooter?

Jeff Morrill: Both. It’s, we’ve launched, we are classified with the
Department of Motor Vehicles as a scooter because you can step through,
there’s no motor and there’s no shifting, so it’s an automatic, so
there are different regulations that determine that it’s a scooter, but
from a riding experience and performance it’s like a motorcycle. We
like to refer to it as the Vectrix ‘cause it’s so new and different,
and you really have to experience to really get the full riding
enjoyment of it.

Sean Daily: So do you really expect to I guess based on that sort of
straddling the middle, I expect that you’re trying to get a crossover
from both audiences.

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, we see targets both from the motorcycle arena,
scooters and quite honestly we’re bringing new people into the two
wheel category, people who really want a real zero mission vehicle,
people who have not ever ridden a motorcycle are actually going and
getting their motorcycle license, which you do need because we do go 62
miles an hour, we are highway legal, so you have to have a motorcycle
license. But a large percentage of our purchasers really want to make a
difference in our daily lives and are tired of, you know, having to
rely on foreign oil and the high rising prices of oil, etcetera, so
they’re out using Vectrix as another alternative.

Sean Daily: You know and it’s interesting too that this vehicle does
go 62 miles an hour which significant if you look at, I mean, not just
with regards to two wheel vehicles and what there is on the market,
‘cause a lot of the quote/unquote “electric scooters” out there are
more of like the almost electrified kids razor variety, you know, and
then getting into the, more of like the Maxi scooter, urban type of
scooter that people might picture, or motorcycles. Again, there isn’t a
lot of availability, but even with regards to cars, the large majority
of the electric vehicles out there are in the neighborhood electric
vehicle category and those are limited by law to 25 miles an hour. So
this is significantly higher than that.

Jeff Morrill: It’s really a, an urban transportation vehicle. We
just had a great announcement yesterday with a test with the New York
Police Department announcing that they are testing Vectrix in actual
patrols, so it’s just symbolic of it’s a real vehicle for real
transportation needs, whether it’s police patrols or urban commuting.

Sean Daily: I heard in the, I heard an interview with you and you
were talking about I believe it was that police force or perhaps
another where they were a bunch of Harley guys, ‘cause, you know, a lot
of the police force ride Harleys and those are great obviously solid
bikes and, you know, gas powered vehicles of course and they were kind
of like snickering under their noses a little bit before they got on
the bike and then they wouldn’t give them back at the end, is that, is
that right?

Jeff Morrill: Oh it’s funny ‘cause, you know, they’ll look at it and
they’ll say “Hey scooter boy and I’ll say, “Well lets go for a ride”
and we get on and, in one situation we had two 250 pound officers, one
was an ex linebacker and, you know what, they had an awful lot of fun
on the bike and we couldn’t get them off, so that’s a good signal to us.

Sean Daily: You know, and that’s another misnomer that I know I’ve
come across with people and that I had myself in the beginning is that
people say things like, “Well, you know, can an electric vehicle really
go that fast? I mean, what’s the power and the performance of this?”
and, you know, both on the car side as well as on the two wheel vehicle
side, you know, the answer is that all the power is so instantly
available and the acceleration is far beyond what a combustion engine
can do and is actually a more intense experience.

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, it’s, the foundation of our company really
emanates out of innovative technology. The motor for the Vectrix is
right on the rear wheel, so the benefit of that is you get your power
and torque right where you need it and the acceleration is zero to
thirty in three point one seconds on the Vectrix…

Sean Daily: That’s great.

Jeff Morrill: And zero to fifty in six point eight seconds…

Sean Daily: Nothing wrong with that.

Jeff Morrill: Often beating large motorcycles off the line and
they’re like, “Hey wait a minute, that’s really electric?” and I’m
like, “Yes, they’re real and we’re here.”

Sean Daily: Yeah, there goes scooter boy off in the distance. That’s
funny. So I also understand something about there’s a single handed
throttle and breaking. It’s, you can do it all with one hand. Is that
accurate?

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, we have patented technology with our
regenerative breaking for motorcycles, it’s in different electric
vehicles, but you can use the throttle obviously to roll backwards and
accelorate. You can also use it to go forward and it acts as a breaking
mechanism. Once people get used to that they really stop using them as
just breaks. We got front row breaks in those situations where you need
fast stopping action, but people get so used to it so intuitive, you
just roll the throttle up, you’re stopping by putting the throttle in
reverse and also recharging the battery up to ten to twelve percent of
the total charge. And what’s neat about that is when you’re sitting
still it acts as we have reverse on the bike, so you can just roll
backwards into a parking spot or not have to, you know, finesse it into
a parking spot, you just put it in reverse to turn around, etcetera.

Sean Daily: Which any motorcycles out there will know what you’re
talking about in trying, finessing bikes ‘cause they don’t have a
reverse gear, so….

Jeff Morrill: Well it’s funny, we’ll be at different shows, whether
they’re EV shows or even cycle shows, and people will get off the
Vectrix and go ride something else and they come back and they say, “I
was using that other bike and I went to hit the reach end breaking and
they didn’t have it.” It is symbolic of how intuitive it becomes for
riders, and it’s great because you have less wear and tear on the
breaks and then less maintenance costs, etcetera, and you’re recharging
your battery.

Sean Daily: Now I’m curious beyond the speed we’ve already talked
about, being 62 miles an hour, tell us about the distance and range on
this bike.

Jeff Morrill: Sure. The range is between 35 and 55 miles. It’s
really based on the riding environment. So if you’re on the highway,
you’re going to be on the lower end of that. You know, most people, or
I should say the average American commute is 42 miles roundtrip, so
it’s actually a perfect fit with the Vectrix. If all 42 miles are on
the highway, you’d have to, you know, recharge it worked for the ride
home, but if you’re on the highway and on, you know, side streets you
can easily get up to the, you know, 50 mile, 55 mile range.

Sean Daily: And that’s funny ‘cause that’s, you know, for most
people that’s counterintuitive because with gas vehicles it’s the
opposite, the more time you’re on the highway the better the fuel
efficiency, but I think anybody that’s dealt with like the Toyota Prius
or other hybrids is already familiar with that, that phenomenon.

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, we’re finding easy knowledgeable folks that’s
very intuitive. We’re actually focusing a lot on training, we’re
looking for new dealers around the country and as we sign them up, we
go through an extensive training program on a really qualify a
consumer, if they’re trying to go as fast at they can from point a to
point b, you know, the range is going to be less. We want to be honest
and up front. At the same time you learn how to almost create a little
competition with yourself, how far can you go with one charge, and it’s
really extensive. It can go well above 55, but you become a master at
the easy Vectrix techniques by that point.

Sean Daily: Okay. So you’re saying the range is the bottom end is around 35 and the top end is around 55.

Jeff Morrill: Yes.

Sean Daily: Okay. Aright, good, well I have a ton more questions for you Jeff…

Jeff Morrill: Great.

Sean Daily: but we’re going to take a quick break to go into our
sponsors, and we will be right back with Jeff Morrill, chief marketing
officer for Vectrix Electric Scooters.

Sean Daily: And we are back talking about electric scooters with,
and motorcycles and anything electric two wheels, with Jeff Morrill who
is the chief marketing officer for Vectrix. Jeff I had some other
questions. We were talking before the break about the speed, the
distance and the range of the bike. I think that naturally leads in any
conversation with regards to electric vehicles, it naturally leads to a
discussion of batteries and battery technology. So can you tell our
audience a little bit about the battery technology in the Vectrix.

Sean Daily: Sure. We use a nickel metal hydride in the Vectrix V1,
we refer to our current product. It is, you know, a common battery out
there, battery source out there. Other current hybrid vehicles are
using it. We think it’s a great alternative. It delivers a really low
center of gravity on the Vectrix for a smooth ride ‘cause all the
battery is down low underneath the front seat and it is recharged, a
total charge is about 3 hours, and that’s where you get the 35 to 55
miles. What’s great about nickel metal hydride is there’s no memory
loss like some cell phones, so I ride to our R & D center about 24
miles away and I plug it in to charge it back up in case at night I
want to go to my kids soccer team or soccer game or something like
that, don’t have to worry about any memory loss of the battery. It’s
actually good conditioning for the battery to plug it in at every
opportunity.

Sean Daily: Now I’m curious about that too because I picture, you
know, I haven’t had the good fortune to have one of these yet or a
vehicle like this, and in terms of plugging it in, I mean obviously at
home you’re going to arrange it in your garage or your outside plug
that, now you’re parked at your office or at the store or what have
you, What’s the availability of plugs and, you know, bringing a cable
and all of that, sort of the logistics of that, how convenient or
inconvenient does that end up being?

Jeff Morrill: I think it’s actually more convenient than people have
realized. I mean, Vectrix plugs into a regular 110 outlet, and if you
actually look for them they’re everywhere, whether it’s at a gas
station or a convenience store. What we would hope as we, you know,
introduce the Vectrix into this country and others is we actually start
building charging stations with different businesses or cities to make
electricity more available, we’re actually in conversation with some
folks to do that now, or even offices or businesses creating charging
stations for EV employees to make their life easier to charge.

Sean Daily: Well it would be a beautiful dream of the future,
wouldn’t it, to have parking spaces with sort of, I picture a little
post at the end of the parking space coming out of the cement stopper
and there’s a dual plug there, an electric plug. That would be a good
sign I think for our society.

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, I would say there are cities around the world
like London that are doing that. And we are hoping to have
conversations and identify some cities in the U.S. that want to help
lead the paradime ship here and we would love to build out an
infrastructure to make electric powered sources available to the riders
of Vectrix, both consumers and city fleets.

Sean Daily: Yeah. So I’m, just going back you had mentioned about
the, returning to the battery discussion, I had another question about
that, you mentioned nickel metal hydride and I have a technology
background and have dealt with a lot, with laptops as a lot of people
have and different technologies, and I’m just curious about nickel
metal hydride. Obviously you said it was a good alternative and I’d say
the alternative is to the lead acid technology which has been around
forever and, you know, is not the same sort of capacity and things like
that, in size it requires more space. But what I’m wondering about is
does nickel metal hydride have a memory effect, which is for people who
don’t know what effect is it’s where the battery sort of retains if you
only half charge it over time, you know, fully, go through a full
decharge and recharge cycle, it ends up remembering that it can retain
less charge than it really can. Is that an issue with nickel metal
hydride?

Jeff Morrill: No, it’s not an issue at all. It’s one of the benefits
of nickel metal hydride, and it’s where the benefit for the rider is
you can go, you know, to half full charge or three quarters full or a
third and then just plug it back in and charge it all the way up.

Sean Daily: And another thing I guess we should mention about nickel
metal hydride that I’m aware of is that, you know, lithium ion has had,
you know, some exploding issues with certain products on the market, we
won’t, they’ll remain nameless, but there have been some issues with
lithium ion batteries actually having, catching on fire and things like
that, so… And is that, is lithium ion much more expensive as a battery
technology to implement than nickel metal hydride?

Jeff Morrill: Actually, you know, there are benefits to that source.
Lithium’s not totally readily available to a lot of different vehicle
providers today, so it I think is a potential option in the future, and
I would say Vectrix is looking at a lot of different battery power
sources to extend the range and deliver a great riding experience.

Sean Daily: So Jeff I had a question just, this is something that
comes up quite a bit in regards to noise factor or the lack of noise
that exists on these vehicles. Some people tout that as an advantage,
some people tout it as a disadvantage, particularly with regards to,
its been in the noise where there have been visually impaired people
that I have, I think it was the Toyota Prius, there was a lawsuit
because they couldn’t hear the vehicle coming, it was in its electric
mode. Is that something that’s come across your radar screen in Vectrix?

Jeff Morrill: Its actually come across as both a feature and a
benefit for Vectrix. We’ve actually added a small hum to the bike so if
there’s actually somebody who is potentially blind on the corner
street, they or their guide dog would hear a little hum of the bike,
and it actually adds a lot more awareness to the driver to make sure
they’re alert and what we’re finding is, you know, the Vectrix V1 is,
you know, it’s a large sized vehicle, it’s like a motorcycle size, so
people tend to see that. There are clearly times where people aren’t
paying attention and obviously we’d want to make sure the riders aware
and sound or no sound isn’t going to help them in those situations, but
we are a big advocate of driver training and safe driving.

Sean Daily: Yeah, okay. I was just curious because I’ve, you know,
heard that come up. And it’s interesting to hear that you’ve
implemented the hum because I’m mused with other guests before that,
you know, there’s an opportunity, a business opportunity around
creating a cool vroom, vroom type of noise company that can do audio
samples and, you know, allow manufacturers the (unintelligible) and
make your bike sound however you want, so…

Jeff Morrill: Well we’ve actually had customers and consumers call
us and say, “Hey, can you do like cell phones, like you get a different
song, it’d kind of be vroom, vroom?”

Sean Daily: Right.

Jeff Morrill: And while we do not offer that option today that’s a very intriguing idea.

Sean Daily: It’s like, yeah, I want, you can point your finger to
the Harley noise, you know, or you can point to the sport bike noise,
yeah. That’s funny. So also I’m curious about on the servicing side.
Lets say my Vectrix breaks down. This is an issue with any alternative
vehicle where maybe there isn’t the same supply change and servicing
change that exists with other more conventional vehicles. What happens
to me if my Vectrix has an issue and I need it serviced, or just when
it needs servicing?

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, I guess an important piece there is we have
launched last April in the U.S. We’re delivering Vetrix V1’s in 10
states right now and we’re building out the network of dealers in
states, so we’re actually holding off and this is difficult for us but
not delivering bikes in a state where we don’t yet have a dealer
partner just so we can make sure we deliver what we call ‘the Vectrix
experience’ and a high level of customer service, but I’ll take a state
where we do have a dealer and what we have is a traditional bricks and
mortar dealership structure. We also require them to have a van or a
mobile truck unit, and what they do is we call it ‘the Vectrix VIP
direct service’, the truck will come, deliver the bike to your home or
do a test ride or come if there’s service needed so that you have two
options; one, coming into the dealership for service or we actually
come to you. It’s an electric vehicle so there’s not a lot of fluids to
adjust or components to adjust. We plug in a laptop and run service
download programs on our product.

Sean Daily: Oh, okay. Yeah, similar to what a lot of garages have to
do these days with various and more advanced cars, being able to,
having to use computers to service them.

Jeff Morrill: Exactly.

Sean Daily: Yeah. Very interesting. Okay, well I have, I have two
other very important questions for you that will have to wait until
after this break. One about the all important question of costs and
also about styling, so those will wait until after this last break from
our commercial sponsor, and we will be back with Jeff Morrill, chief
marketing officer for Vectrix.

Sean Daily: Okay, and we are back with Jeff Morrill from Vectrix.
We’re talking about two-wheeled high performance electric vehicles,
also known as scooters and motorcycles. And Jeff I had a question for
you, just, you know, really where a lot of people I think who are
listening to this or have heard about the Vectrix are going to be
asking the question of, you know, cost. Well what do these things cost?
Can you answer that for us?

Jeff Morrill: Sure, the Vectrix is $11,000 dollars, and we’re
finding some states are actually offering rebates. Georgia has got
probably the most advanced rebate where there’s a 20 percent tax refund
for the purchase of any EV vehicles, so we’re hoping more states and
cities have support programs like that.

Sean Daily: I might have to go to Georgia to buy my Vectrix. That’s
pretty enticing. And it’s right about in there, I’m pretty familiar
with the pricing in this market and so I can say that, you know, based
on performance and the features, you know, there are other products out
there that are in the thirteen to fifteen thousand dollar range that
I’ve talked to on this program and have researched and so forth, so it
sounds like you guys are actually priced right in the sweet spot there
at that price point. And I’m glad to hear, you said $11,000 dollars and
not euros ‘cause I read something online that said you were using the
euro, and based on the way the dollar is compared to the euro right
now, that would’ve been a lot more than $11,000 dollars.

Jeff Morrill: We’re having currency fluctuations as everyone else
is, but it is $11,000 dollars. We do think we hit, you know, hopefully
the right price line. It is a whole new category, we’re pioneering the
way and we’ve really tried to, really we want to make a statement that
the V1 is real and we got top of the line components like Brumbo
breaks, Marzoki shocks. We didn’t cut any corners ‘cause we wanted
people to have an outstanding all electric ride.

Sean Daily: Now what about tires? You use Perelli, is that right?

Jeff Morrill: Perelli, yes.

Sean Daily: Yeah, you can’t go wrong there. Well that’s good, that’s
definitely high performance vehicle. Well and, you know, I added one
other question which is actually about, on the styling side, more on
the aesthetics, as long as we’re talking about aesthetics. And it seems
to me there’s sort of two category, main categories of scooters and
urban scooters and one is the more modern urban Maxi scooter look,
which is, Vectrix I think is very in line with it’s that beefier almost
like kind of hybrid motorcycle scooter look. It’s a very substantial
vehicle, it’s got the modern lines and such, and then you’ve got sort
of the old school people who like the old Vespa, that throw back look,
you know, where you look like you’re going to have that little, you
know, the little half helmet and the cup of cappacchino, you know, in
one hand and one hand on the scooter…

Jeff Morrill: Right, right, right.

Sean Daily: If you’ve been to Italy you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Jeff Morrill: Yup.

Sean Daily: Maybe a cigarette in there or two. You know, so I’m just
curious, are you, do you guys have any plans that you can talk about
with regards to possibly doing more of a classic styling in the future?

Jeff Morrill: Actually we see a lot of different options from a
future design perspective. We are like any great company working on
lots of new products all the time, and we actually featured a concept,
a new concept for a super bike at the Milan Ikna show probably 60 days
ago and we’re going to have it on tour in the U.S., it’ll be at CES,
our booth there in early January in Las Vegas, and we would anticipate,
you know, again in a pipeline of new products over the next, you know,
coming years so that we can continue to meet different rider needs with
an all electric vehicle.

Sean Daily: Okay. Well that’s good to know. I’m glad I asked the
question. So for those of you quadrophinium mod head types out there,
there is hope for, for you yet. And I think, well I also read something
I wanted to clarify with you, which was something about a potential
three-wheeled option for this, is that still in the works?

Jeff Morrill: Yes, actually we introduced it at Easy S in Anaheim
last month, or earlier this month I guess and we have a concept bike
that we are now starting to take deposits on. It is two wheels in the
front and has a great riding experience offering more stability.
There’s patented components to an independent wheel action that we have
on our Z3 models. Again, it’s not yet available. We’re starting to take
deposits today at myvectrix.com or you can go to vectrix.com to get to
it, and we would see that as a great riding option, if you pull up to a
stoplight, you hit a button and if the bike stabilizes it automatically
locks in a vertical position, this can only happen at three miles per
hour under, but you can, you’ll not have to put your feet on the ground
or not have to worry about backing up and people are actually amazed
when they see somebody stop and not put their feet down and then they
read on the back a little banner that says “100 % electric”, and their
head just kind of spins and you see them all roll down their window and
say, “What is that?” It’s a Vectrix.

Sean Daily: Yeah, that’s cool. They’re definitely head turners, I
mean anything along these lines are now, people are really, you know,
amazed that they even exist. It still seems very futuristic to people
even though, you know, electric vehicles have been around since the
20’s. It’s, you know, to actually, to see them in use, it’s really, it
still represents the unrealized promise and potential of the future
with regards to sustainable transport, so it’s exciting to see
companies like Vectrix producing products, and that leads me into my
last question, which I really think is the most important question of
all, particularly for somebody who’s very interested in a vehicle like
this. Are these available right now? Can I get one?

Jeff Morrill: Yeah, we, if you go to vectrix.com we show all the
states where we have dealers in. We’re currently delivering bikes in
California, Oregon, Washington, Texas, Utah, Arizona, Florida, Georgia,
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts.

Sean Daily: That’s great. And so there’s no current wait list for the most part?

Jeff Morrill: There, the only wait list we have is in states that we
have not yet gotten a dealer infrastructure in and we are, one, looking
for new dealers in other states like Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, but we’re
also in conversations in a lot of those to get dealers set up as the
demand is growing everyday, and we have people drive across country and
buy a Vectrix in our flagship store right in downtown Newport Rhode
Island.

Sean Daily: Now that’s funny you guys are in Newport Rhode Island, I grew up in Barrington Rhode Island, so…

Jeff Morrill: Oh did you?

Sean Daily: Yes, yes I did. I’m in California now, but that’s my, that’s my (unintelligible)…

Jeff Morrill: Small world, huh?

Sean Daily: It is a very small world. Yes, well great, well Jeff
thank you so much for being on the program with us today and sharing
information about Vectrix. It’s very exciting to see the product
shipping on the market and representing part of the future of
two-wheeled electric transportation.

Jeff Morrill: Great, we, thanks for having me and we’ll be in
California in January, we’d love to get you on a Vectrix to actually
ride it.

Sean Daily: Well you know I’ll be there, I’ll definitely love to be
a guinea, well not a guinea pig I guess since you guys have been around
for a while but I’d love to get my crack at it, so you can count on
that. My guest today has been Jeff Morrill, chief marketing officer at
Vectrix. You can find them online at www.vectrix, v-e-c-t-r-i-x, dot com or myvectrix.com. Jeff thanks again.

Jeff Morrill: Thank you.

Sean Daily: Thanks as always to everyone listening in today.
Remember for more free on demand podcasts, articles, videos and other
information related to living a greener lifestyle, visit our website at
www.greenlivingideas.com. We’d also love to hear your comments, feedback and questions. Send us an email at editors@greenlivingideas.com.





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