Dear PodRide Supporter,
We must start this update with an apology. We have been very quiet for many months. We didn’t have any news of consequence so we kept quiet. We should have been communicating even though we didn’t have much to say.
We are now at a point where we have some information worth sharing.
At the time of our last update we were looking for investment to bring PodRide to market. We were originally planning to utilise a European based, equity fund raising platform to raise the necessary funds. The platform changed their rules at the last minute making us ineligible and had us looking around for an alternative platform. Our supporters gave us feedback and told us that we should deal directly with them rather than go via a platform. Our supporters even registered their interest totalling more than 5 million euros of potential investment.
Unfortunately, when seeking investment, based on legal advice we could not accept investment from supporters in the USA and Canada, and we were also required to insist that all people seeking to invest were qualified investors to comply with legal requirements within their geography. These factors greatly reduced the number of supporters that could actually invest in PodRide.
With this round of financing we only raised enough investment to allow us to move forward with a reduced team. We downsized the team and focussed on completing the design. We finalised the design and sought costings on the various components that make up PodRide.
There are around 760 components that makeup PodRide (not including all the nuts, bolts, and other fasteners). Of these, around 400 are components that we can purchase “off the shelf” from suppliers, leaving 360 components that need to be custom manufactured. The number of parts decreases when the components are made into sub-assemblies, but each part needs to be precision manufactured, and this involves, laser/water cutting, tube bending, metal folding, CNC, extrusion, welding etc.. The investment required for molds, jigs and tooling is in the ballpark of US$500,000.
In addition to complexity, the high number of custom parts involved means that production unit costs are higher and there is more likelihood of problems during the manufacturing and assembly processes. Based on the current parameters of custom parts, capital and production volumes we estimate that the price of PodRide would sell for between US$7500 and 10,000. This is well above the price we want to be able to sell PodRide for.
If we were a company with millions of dollars in the bank and were able to finance and produce thousands of units it would be possible to produce PodRide as per the current design. Significant capital would allow the investment necessary for better tooling and production, and high volumes would help provide the economies of scale needed to produce PodRide at lower unit sell price.
Our priorities right now are to greatly reduce the custom parts count, reduce complexity, and reduce production cost so we can make PodRide affordable to as many people as possible. Our target price is closer to US$5,000*. In fact, we hope to offer PodRide in various configurations (such as with and without motor), that would allow an entry price below $5,000. *This price does not include taxes, duties and shipping that will vary based on each country.
PodRide’s inventor Mikael Kjellman is a traditional mechanical engineer with extensive design experience, working with sheet metal cutting and folding, which is evident in the design. To simplify the design will take some radical thinking, and a fresh set of eyes and ideas will help that. To that end we have a new member on the design team, and his name is Michael (Mike).
Mike has been involved with bikes for a long time. He was professional trials bike rider, and has years of experience in bicycle frame and component design. Mike has been engaged explicitly to reduce the design complexity, the number of parts, (and weight) of PodRide.
Mike has spent the past couple of weeks reviewing our design and brainstorming ways to simplify the design. We now have a list of around 30 design aspects and areas that we will begin working through in our quest to simplify and reduce cost. Some of these areas will require proof of concepts to verify that a simplified solution will achieve the desired result. Once we have completed the simplified design we will redo the costings and publish an estimated selling price.
All of the above means we will not ship PodRide this year. We know this will disappoint many supporters and we are truly sorry for that. PodRide is complex product to bring to market (even with a simplified design), and requires significant investment.
PodRide has over fifty thousand passionate supporters on our mailing list and Facebook, but due to legal restrictions in relation to fund raising from within our supporter community, we were not able to raise the capital investment required to fund the development and production of PodRide. We will shortly be looking to traditional sources of investment to complete the journey through to production and product release.
Thank you to you, our amazing PodRide supporters. We appreciate your encouragement, support and patience.
David Rowswell & Mikael Kjellman
New team member Mike with the radical trike that he designed and built..