Wow, what a couple of weeks! All the intense prep for the Maker Faire did pay off - with a beautiful car, great team, and a rubber-burning technology. 2,000 people stopped by our exhibit over the weekend, we talked in person to ~300 of them, and ~70 people got interested enough that they seriously started considering a conversion. As anticipated, our stated high performance (0-60 in less than 6 seconds) was a huge help in getting people interested.
On May 21-22, 2011 eMotorWerks had its first big public exposure at the Makers Faire, held in San Mateo, CA. For those of you not familiar with Makers Faire and what it represents - it is the largest Do-It-Yourself event in the United States. Started by O'Reilly Foundation / MAKE magazine in 2006, it now occurs annually, and anyone can apply on-line to participate. You can see a wide variety of the products of human creativity at the faire - from abstract art and music to organic produce; from clothes, hats and match-boats, to robots and cars; from gargantuan Burning Man style fire-breathing dragons to moving rock statutes.
Our first electric conversion model - a sexy red convertible Fiat Spider 124 was completed long after the Maker Fair application deadline passed. Nevertheless, event organizers were so impressed by our electric car conversion process that they allowed us to participate anyway. They even gave us a large spot alongside other alternative energy and DYI vehicles near the very popular Coke stage. We had fun neighbors: on the left a new-age bike maker surrounded by extended family with numerous children, and a Compact Solar Trike and hand crafted wooden bike makers on the right, plus a red Miata convertible team in the back. We did not have much time to talk with our neighbors during the exposition, but there was a great socializing opportunity Friday night, just before the official Faire started - a Makers party with free paella, beer and lots of fun.
I am pleased to report that eMotorWerks's First Public Exposure at 2011 Makers Faire was a success!
First of all, Faire attendance this year was unbelievable. The numbers have not been published yet, but judging from the lack of parking, endless lines for food and just pure visual crowds - I am fairly certain it was a record. I attended the Faire last year, and it seemed the number of people doubled! If it keeps growing like this, Maker Faire will have to find a new venue, repeating the history of Burning Man (which had to move from California to Nevada once it gained more popular cult status.) Crowds can be annoying when you look for parking, but on the other hand, it gives me hope seeing so many people attending this type of the event and being creative and oriented towards better future.
From my corporate biopharma PR experience I was prepared to "lure" the public to our booth with the promise of swag for filling out our electric conversion survey. We planned to do a video and photo shoot to post on our website and, as a side effect, potentially attract the public… In reality we barely had time to take breaks with all the questions coming in and the constant flow of people stopping by. We dressed down on Sunday, after realizing that we would not really have time for a proper photo shoot. We ran out of informational brochures by the mid-day Saturday and had to print hundreds more overnight for the next day. And of course all eMotorWerks color printers broke that night! Murphy's Law...
Leaving aside unnecessary modesty - our posters were the nicest in both design and content among the automotive/alternative energy vehicles section. The Green theme attracted 'organically oriented' Californians and many hundreds did not hesitate to push through the lines towards the banners to read them in detail. Some people, to save trouble, just took a picture of our posters from a distance to study later in peace and quiet.
Some of us almost ran out of business cards. Overall, we estimate that ~2,000 people stopped by our exhibit and we personally talked to 250-300 people over the 2 day period.
For next year's faire we are expecting to have a number of marketable kits as well as a large show on "how to convert a car over a week-end". We'll most likely have live streaming and a recording of the show, so you won't miss a thing and by the end of the weekend be ready to join the ranks of drivers who want true choice in their electric transportation!
eMotorWerks Electric Conversion Survey
During the faire we collected ~70 surveys to measure public interest in electric conversions. You can find some of the most interesting findings below.
Primary requirements from a conversion:
Our respondents indicated that they think that the most important parameter factor to conversion is range (57% listed it as #1 in importance). Acceleration almost tied with recharge time - they were rated second and third in importance, respectively. In addition, 28% respondents added Reliability and Battery Life as important factors.
Reasons to convert:
Cost of gas scored the highest (23%) as the most frequent reason to convert. Many people thought that electric cars are 'cool', and one respondent wrote 'Rock Star status' in his survey as the main reason to convert. Fun/Coolness factor came in second almost at the same level as ecology and other 'selfless' reasons at 18% and 15% respectively.
Many people were already sold on electric conversion, thinking about making one of their old cars electric. For them, as well as for majority, cost was essential. This was expected, given the DYI spirit of the faire. Nevertheless, our survey showed that FULL 40% of the respondents understand the true value of all conversion benefits and are willing to pay accordingly.
The most popular candidate for e-conversion was Volkswagen bug, someone asked about HAMMER conversion (!) and we received one serious inquiry to convert a silver Rolls Royce (!).
Overall, I think the entire EMotorWerks team did an outstanding job so far! In a very short amount of time we managed to show significant progress and gain noticeable exposure. The red convertible Fiat was a great choice for the show. Now we need to keep the momentum. To do this, we are scheduling multiple appearances at various Bay Area events over the course of the summer - stay tuned! We have also been invited as exhibitors and speakers to the first EV conversion conference in the US (ECCON 2011, Missouri, September 2011). We will be bringing our electric Fiat and BMW to the show and Valery Miftakhov will speak about EV conversion potential in the US and how Electric Motor Werks will help realize this potential.
More exciting news to come.
Julia Sirotina, PR and Communications, eMotorWerks.