Tuesday, July 12, 2011

GREEN Vehicles is closing its doors

To all interested:

It is with great regret that I must report that GREEN Vehicles has been unsuccessful in bringing in the resources necessary to continue as an organization, and we will be shutting our doors. As an entrepreneur, I know I’m expected to approach this moment with the perspective that we take chances that sometimes will pay off and at other times will not, but it would be disingenuous for me to adopt such a view.

The truth is that not realizing the vision for this company is a huge disappointment. Our dream was to change transportation for “regular people” to something practical, sustainable, affordable, and cool. We aspired to be the fast-moving vehicle platform for innovations from a space in high flux: the deliberate first mover. I believed, and still believe, that with resources we could deliver a lighter weight electric vehicle, purpose-built for the daily drive; that we could integrate the newest battery and electric drivetrain technology more quickly with our lower minimum efficient scale production system; that we could lead the charge into the full benefits of a connected vehicle, a peer-to-peer and traditional carshare-ready vehicle, and someday an autonomous vehicle; that we could introduce a buy local option to a manufacturing industry whose focus is very nearly the opposite; and that in doing so, we could bring incredible value to consumers whose needs have been so narrowly represented by the incumbent automakers.

Our vision attracted some very talented and dedicated people to our ranks. We built a network of support from strategic partners willing to invest time and money in our venture’s future. We found incredible support from our Early Adopter customers willing to overcome the quirks of a scantly funded commercial pilot program with us, and from eager would-be Triac2.0 owners with high hopes for a well-fitting Clean Commuter solution. I will take this opportunity to offer my most heartfelt thanks to all of you for dreaming differently with us, and my most sincere apologies for not delivering the conclusion we worked so hard to bring about.

In the spirit of openness that I had hoped to promote within this company, and in the hopes that our lessons can help other entrepreneurs avoid the same mistakes, I will share three things that I would have done differently given the opportunity:
  • First, I would and will only start companies with a solid base of equity partners in the management team capable of achieving the first two years worth of milestones. Not doing so cost this company valuable time in the development of a more complete product as our ownership passed over desperately needed, world-class talents who were not surprisingly unwilling to work without a significant ownership incentive. If a majority of a startup company’s shares are owned by non-value added investors, you are at risk of fighting a zero-sum game with deep misalignment, rather than taking a collaborative “build something great” approach. Startups are hard enough without wildly conflicting interests.
  • Secondly, for a complex, capital-intensive business such as ours, I would seek an enabling venture partner early in the process. There are few things more frustrating than sitting on projects that could differentiate your company and product in important ways while competitors continue forward. Furthermore, I believe a strong VC partner can help open important doors: for major development partners who may otherwise be unwilling to jump in and cooperate with a startup; for top talent; for other funding sources during future rounds; etc. Holding on too tightly to percentages and control of an organization that is not equipped to succeed can cost everyone everything.
  • Third, I would bite off chewable pieces. Given that very few startups have more cash than they know what to do with, there is almost by definition a capital pinch inside new ventures. There would have been much more value in building one of our sub-systems (such as the traction battery pack or the connected in-vehicle infotainment system) perfectly than a complete vehicle “prototypy.” These complete mini-products could potentially have generated some cash to fuel the larger business goals, or at the very least represented the capabilities of our team well as well as the quality-intent of our product. This strategy is probably situational, and may just look clearer in hindsight, but I have that at the moment so it’s worth mentioning.
If you have been a supporter of GREEN Vehicles, thank you.

Kind regards,
Mike Ryan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

KQED visits Green Vehicles' Triac plant in Salinas to explore manufacturing in California

We're pleased that KQED featured Green Vehicles on The California Report, January 25, 2011, exploring the future of local manufacturing. The piece features Green Vehicles president Mike Ryan and City of Salinas mayor Dennis Donohue, commenting on why it makes sense to manufacture locally and how cities like Salinas are attracting industry.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What was Green Vehicles up to in 2010?

Happy New Year from Green Vehicles!

The turn of the year is traditionally a time to take stock of where we’ve been and where we’re going, which seems to us like a darn good idea for individuals and companies alike. In 2010, we focused on designing the future of our company and products, while perhaps putting too little effort into updating our friends, fans, and allies. Let’s fix that! After all, these are exciting times for Green Vehicles, and we want to bring you up to speed.

The “Great Recession” has had a profound effect on most of us and our businesses. Green Vehicles also had to weather the times and make prudent choices in order to grow, develop product, and ramp up production at pace commensurate with this challenging period. However, the overwhelming interest and support for the Triac has successfully brought us through, as did our team’s dedication to our mission.

In 2010, our exciting news is that Green Vehicles was one of the few U.S. companies that did deliver EVs to our customers. The company was one of the few recipients of grant support for expansion by the state of California. We maxed out our initial production capacity, thanks to customer demand generated almost entirely from YouTube and our website, which might be a historical first for any vehicle maker. With vehicles on the road, we gathered feedback from the first batch of Triac experts (aka, our customers) and have been integrating that information into design improvements for the Triac2.0, shipping in 2011.

Green Vehicles also moved into our 80,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Salinas, California, securing enough space to meet our growth for several years. Recently, we announced our partnership with battery-supplier Leyden Energy, maker of high energy-density battery solutions perfect for light-weight automotive applications like the Triac.

In 2011, you will see not only a new automaker taking shape, but a new kind of automaker. Green Vehicles will introduce the auto industry to greater transparency, local production (utilizing our ‘micro-factory’ approach), and unique ‘clean commuter’ technology. Watch (literally) as we broadcast Green Vehicles installing a several-thousand-vehicle-per-year production line. Evaluate our environmental performance for yourself as we track (for better or for worse) our progress toward a modern, sustainable operation and report the results on our ‘Sustainability Dashboard.’

As our first California-made Triac2.0 clean commuter vehicles come off the line, you will learn about our customers with fun podcasts we will call “I drive a Triac, what about it?!” We expect the first customers who reserve a Triac will receive delivery of their vehicle by the end of 2011.

2010 saw big changes in the EV market as a whole. Major automakers are entering the EV market and lending mainstream legitimacy to electrification. Discussion of EVs has moved out of the fringes. And EV charging infrastructure has become a hot topic for governments preparing themselves for the revolution in transportation. With the Leaf and Volt coming to market, some people have argued that smaller makers such as Green Vehicles or Tesla may not be able to compete. This argument doesn’t hold water, and we will give you the opportunity to chime in through a series of podcast discussions, first of which will be “Why major auto OEMs are not structured for success in the battery electric vehicle space, and why you should care.”

Thank you for your continued interest in Green Vehicles. Here’s to an exciting ride in 2011.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

KCBS interviews Mike Ryan about Triac and Green Vehicles

On Monday this week KCBS San Francisco spent about two hours with Green Vehicles president Mike Ryan, test driving a Triac and asking people's impressions. Watch the 2-minute news clip here. Pulling into a gas station (where no Triac ever needs to go), the interviewer asked people what they thought of the looks, and how they felt about the fact that the Triac will be produced in Salinas, CA. In short, the "person on the street" impressions were positive!

Monday, November 29, 2010

San Jose Mercury News, "Triac ... getting ready to hit the streets"

The San Jose Mercury News Tech section for Monday, November 29, featured Green Vehicles and an interview with president Mike Ryan.
Is there a Triac in your future? Maybe -- if your conscience has evolved to a deep shade of green and you have $25,000 to spare on a locally manufactured, three-wheeled gasless electric vehicle with a 100-mile range. ... It's no Tesla, but that's the point, Ryan says. The Triac is a less costly vehicle for an environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Monday, November 22, 2010

100 people turn out for reception announcing Green Vehicles & Leyden Energy EV battery partnership

OK, we don't have an exact count, but our guesstimate is 100 people came out in the cold and rain on Saturday, November 20 to participate in a reception at Green Vehicles' manufacturing facility in Salinas, CA. The reception was held to announce the partnership between Green Vehicles and our battery supplier, Leyden Energy of Fremont.  We had a good showing from EV enthusiasts, Salinas residents, local politicians, and media. The size of the turn-out exceeded our expectations for a Saturday afternoon corporate event. What a testament to the excitement and expectations surrounding affordable, clean transportation options for freeway commuters. Many thanks to everyone who attended!

Here are links to a media coverage that resulted from the event:

Roughly 100 people joined us at the reception in the Green Vehicles manufacturing facility.

Friday, January 1, 2010