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In some industries, bankruptcies, shutdowns and pullouts have become so commonplace that we’ve had to start deathwatch lists just to keep track (see: coal, ethanol). Not so in the electric scooter sector, which has only begun to rev up at the starting line. But this week, startup Vectrix, one of the earliest movers in a market that has begun to attract big-name players (Honda, Piaggio), appears headed for bankruptcy.
What happened? AutoblogGreen has posted a Vectrix press release (dated July 14) downloaded from the startup’s site before it shut down, and it paints the whole gloomy picture. Noting “challenging market conditions for some time as a result of the credit crunch and lack of consumer spending on bigger ticket retail purchases,” Vectrix says it has seen “very disappointing” sales and been unable to secure financing over the last several months.
According to the Providence Journal, which broke the story, Rhode Island-based Vectrix has sold only 2,000 of the $11,000, Poland-made Maxi scooters, although it had plans to market “two lower-end models costing as little as $5,100.” Vectrix, which the Journal says never turned a profit, had some 200 workers and 225 dealerships at its peak.
At this point, the startup has laid off most of its team (at least 20), as it pursues “strategic options including the sale of the Company.” If that doesn’t pan out within 30 days, Plan B is for Vectrix (“a victim,” as Edmunds Green Car Advisor puts it, “of the ‘good idea a little too soon’ syndrome”) to file for bankruptcy.
Vectrix, having ventured into the business of electric two-wheel scooters 13 years ago, will leave behind it (if it does go kaput) a much fatter field of electric vehicles designed as alternatives to the standard four-wheeled car than when it started — including VentureOne from Venture Vehicles, Aptera’s Typ-1, Brammo’s Enertia and Mission Motors’ planned Mission One. Here’s hoping we don’t have to start another deathwatch.
Photo credit Flickr user Sonietta46