Over the past decade, I’ve seen a disturbing trend as more and more companies seem to be blatantly trying to rip off consumers, investors, and crowdfunders with their electric vehicle products. Whether it is electric cars, ebikes, electric scooters or electric skateboards it seems like the entire industry has become like the gold rush of clueless people anxious to spend their money to get their little piece of the electrically powered pie. The new normal is for people to spend their time and money shopping for electric-powered vehicles on crowdfunding sites as if they were buying products directly from Amazon. What they don’t realize is that some of these crowdfunding campaigns end up taking people’s money and never delivering any product while others are making blatantly fraudulent claims about the products they are selling. The most successful ebike crowdfunder of all time, Storm Sondors, has also now set up an ‘investment campaign’ where you can invest directly in his new electric car company. I have to take a step back and look at all this chaos and wonder if and when this will ever end. This article looks at some of the problems with this ‘Brave New World’ and why you should never, ever invest your money in any crowdfunding campaign or any electric vehicle company.
One of the most important things for people to do when it comes to electric vehicles of any kind is to just take a deep breath and take a step back. Try to look at the entire industry from an objective viewpoint instead of from an emotional one. When I see the pile of ebike batteries that I spent tons of cash on just 3 years ago, today they are all just junk. They still work just fine, but the weight-to-power density of them simply cannot compete with the new batteries that are being produced today. If you are lucky your batteries will stay relevant and functional for 5 years, but if you don’t store them properly and if you use them all the time then there is a good chance that they will not even last that long. No matter if you’re looking at electric cars, ebikes or electric skateboards the battery technology is all pretty much the same right now.
Why buy a new Sondors electric car when you can get an almost new Nissan Leaf for dirt cheap?
I find it fascinating how so many people have ponied up fast stacks of cash to get on board with ‘shares’ of Storm/Ivars Sondors newest venture which I will affectionately call ‘cashing in on your popularity’. If you visit this site you can buy $12 shares of his new company (minimum investment of $120). Storm\Ivars has surpassed my every expectation of him by actually delivering the $7 million dollars in ebikes people entrusted to him, but I have to say that I think building a prototype electric reverse trike for less than $1 million dollars is ambitious, even for China. I can’t think of any reason that I would personally ever buy a $10,000 Sondors electric trike instead of buying a Nissan Leaf that is just a year or two old (they generally run in the $6,000-$8,000 range). The Leaf almost certainly will have more range, more space and be much safer to drive than the Sondors electric car. There are several companies that have tried to make the electric or super fuel-efficient trike thing work in the US. My gut tells me they are mostly just building trikes to get around the safety requirements of building cars in the US. Do you really want to drive on the freeway at 65mph in a three-wheeled reverse trike that did not undergo government crash testing? No thanks.
It’s funny how quickly people forget the blatant fraud around the original Sondor’s ebike claims (review here), like 45lbs instead of the actual 58.5lbs (that’s 30% heavier than originally claimed). There is also the question of how people are going to eek out 35-50 miles of range on their Sondors efatbike out of a pack that is only 36v and 8.8Ah, although there are people who claim to be able to do it (maybe at power level 1 with a whole lot of pedaling). The way every single crowdfunded ebike, electric scooter and electric skateboard overstate their mileage claims, it has now become par for the course to do so (come on … everybody’s doing it). Because Sondors delivered the bikes he promised and everyone who was invested in him let out a collective sigh of relief, all his transgressions were quickly forgotten. Once they got their ebikes, his fans quickly lined up to spend their hard-earned money on his next grand adventure. Go Sondors.
Crowdfunding has officially become the medium of choice for hardcore gamblers
If the nickel slots don’t do it for you and you want to really stay up at night wondering if you’ll ever get what you paid for then spending large amounts of cash on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is perfect for you. From what I can tell most EV crowdfunding campaigns are for existing Chinese products that you can already shop for on Alibaba and Aliexpress. The crowdfunding campaigns sell these same products at a higher price and you have to wait usually over a year to get your perk. Let’s take the ‘Storm’ Indiegogo skateboards (no relation to Ivar’s\Storm Sondors campaigns above) run a year and a half ago by ‘John Madden’ located here. Unfortudently that campaign closed and John Madden only got a total of $700 raised for his crappy 24v electric skateboard that was going to run people about $350 with shipping. Don’t despair, John Madden is back with his latest crowdfunding campaign for a folding ebike for the ‘Jolt’ ebike (available here) and he hit a home run by raising $276,314 to date (there are 4 days left so you better hurry). So 411 backers gave $499 or more to some guy they never met before who is only ’email verified’ to basically do a group buy of a cheap Alibaba folding ebikes without even listing the Ah of the battery on their site. They claim 50 miles of range but I have to call BS on that, sorry boys (don’t worry about the battery size, everything out there is ’50 miles of range’). On top of that, the shipping for the ebike is not listed anywhere on the crowdfunding site (Storm\Ivars Sondors charged $197 shipping for his $499 ebike in his campaign above). Go Madden.
I’m picking on John Madden here but there is also an ongoing campaign currently at $6,270,982 for the $699 folding Mate ebike here. The Backfire G2 skateboard has 5 days left and is at $218,528 with 506 backers for a $500 electric skateboard that does not even list the voltage of the motor or capacity of the battery pack. It seems like every day more campaigns pop up selling electric transportation with bogus range claims and missing product information and people just can’t seem to give up their money fast enough.
I have to stop here. This is nothing short of madness. Who is crazy enough to plunk down $500 or more with some promise of a folding bike or electric skateboard that might be delivered at some point in the future (if the guy is actually legit). On top of that, you will probably have to pay a shipping cost that is not even discussed on the crowdfunding site which could be as much as $200 dollars more. This large dollar amount electric vehicle fad on crowdfunding is just plain gambling and it should be regulated as such. I think that this kind of high dollar gambling actually changes the way people’s brains are wired. They invest more than $500 in something and then spend the next year worrying about whether they will get their perk. During that year when anyone questions their sanity of investing in the first place, they become absolutely rabid because they don’t want to admit that maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to do in the first place. If you want a $500 cheap-ass craptastic folding Chinese 36v ebike then just go to Alibaba and just buy one. My first query brought up 39,811 to choose from. What is wrong with you people?
Tesla is the very model of overvalued Electric Vehicle companies
I have to start off this next rant by saying that I love Elon Musk. The guy is my kind of crazy and his ideas are all pretty much off the hook. That being said I would NEVER buy any Tesla stock because it is way overvalued and I am fiscally conservative (cheapskate). There is no one who deals with financial investments in the world who would disagree with that statement. The value of Tesla stock is based on what people think that the future value of the company will be, not the current value is. I don’t see Tesla ever catching up to their cashflow requirements, as Elon’s vision for what he wants Tesla to be is just too big. Every success they have the new income will quickly get eaten up with the next big project, whether it be self-driving semis or their newest sports car. If I could afford it I would probably buy a Tesla P85D with the Ludicrous mode, I really love the company and their products that much. I just don’t see myself ever being able to afford it. $100,000 buys a lot of boardgames and cheap electric bikes which is all I seem to spend my money on these days. My belief is that you think your Tesla stock is going to pay off big in the next 10 or even 20 years I think that you are an eternal optimist. I made 25% on my sizable retirement last year by investing pretty conservatively, there is no way in hell I would ever get within a mile of Tesla stock (or any EV company for that matter).
Just how much money does it take to start an EV company? How much you got?
In the last few years, there have been half a dozen companies that have come and gone trying to make it big with electric vehicles. Aptera, Fisker and Coda to name a few. Other larger companies have invested millions of dollars in EV tech like GM did with the EV1 and eventually scrapped the entire project. It seems like every day a new company appears on the radar like Faraday Future promising to deliver an electric car that will outperform a Tesla while the rest of the world breaths a collective ‘yeah right’. It seems like there is no limit to how much investor capital these companies can chew through before finally throwing in the towel.
To end this crazy article I will just say this: Before you whip out your checkbook or give away your credit card you should just stop and think. “Am I really making a smart move here?” If you can’t say for sure then the best thing you can do is just sleep on it. If you wake up in the next morning and are thinking ‘dang, that was almost the dumbest thing I ever almost done’, then you probably shouldn’t do it. On the other hand, if you still think that investing in that crowdfunding campaign or that EV company is still a great idea then you should probably just do it.
In the immortal words of the Butthole Surfers, “it’s better to regret something that you have done than to regret something you haven’t done…”
You know the rest.