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Modern Classics Messages from the Founder

Black Friday Storytime?

Hello again!

It’s John here, Founder & CEO of Fēnix. With tomorrow being December 1st, I thought I would take advantage of a quiet morning to reflect a bit on 2019, and share a bit of the vision for Fēnix Power for 2020 and well beyond. So find your comfy chair, get a fresh cup of your favorite Saturday morning beverage, for me that’s a cup of medium roast with a little sugar-free vanilla creamer. I’m going to share a bit about what the near-term future looks like here in Charlotte, and then tell a story of a slightly more distant future. This is the one we’re aiming for here at Fēnix Power, and as our reservation count grows, I’m more certain of achieving this vision each and every day.

First, it IS Thanksgiving weekend, surely we have some kind of promotion going on right? Well, we do, but it’s not entirely obvious what the deal is unless you’re following us closely. You see, something big is going on with our reservations today, right now we’re only THREE reservations away from our 400th Nissan Leaf battery replacement deposit! And with the pace of reservations over this long weekend, I have no doubt that we will get to and pass 400 in just a matter of hours. And that’s a pretty big deal for us! And in some ways, that’s a very big deal for each of you as well. You see, in 2020 we will be making a big transition away from building everything basically by hand. One part at a time, one assembly at a time, one car at a time, and with our (soon!) more than 400 customers in line and waiting for us? One at a time just won’t do. And it’s these 400 customers, that have been on-pace to double reservations every 3 months for five quarters in a row, that has provided our investors with real measurable proof of just how strong our first-product market really is. This is key to give us access to the capital we need to achieve our 2020 goals.

In 2020 we’re changing everything about what we’re doing. A short while ago you saw us share our newest location here in Charlotte, and a great location it is, with space for growing our engineering team, in the offices and labs, and space for testing manufacturing automation in the space in the back. And this facility could see us scale to building a full pack assembly every day so we could ship them out for installs to our (almost!) 400 very patient customers waiting in line by the end of the year. And that would be absolutely amazing if we could scale like that, but … we’re not.

We’re planning to scale more than that. You see, 400 isn’t nearly enough, we estimate with the Nissan Leaf alone and solely in the US, there are thousands of Leafs with seriously crippling range limitations, and thousands aging out of warranty coverage every year for nearly the next decade. 400 isn’t even close! By the end of 2020, we aim to prepare Fēnix Power for an even larger manufacturing pace capable of delivering thousands each year. In March of this year, Nissan put its 400,000th Leaf on US roads, wouldn’t it be great if we could keep most of them out of the recyclers? I think so, so we’re aiming to do exactly that!

Part of my vision for our future is that 30 years from now in 2050, 39 years after the original 2011 Nissan Leaf was sold in the US, that we are able to keep most of them on the road. They’re Instant retro-classics in this context, in 2050 they will have that quirky historical-futuristic styling people in ’50 are fond of. Much in the same way the styling of the 1964 Mustang is just as iconic in ’64 as it is in ’19. In 2050 the unique styling of our beloved 1st generation LEAFs makes a statement about a new kind of motor-vehicle classic car enthusiast.

in the summer of 2019, thousands of car buffs flock to car shows to see dozens of classic Mustangs, or perhaps Corvettes, though my personal favorites are classic Jeeps. But instead of looking backward from today, we’re going to imagine a classic car show that is Looking Back from the Future. (I couldn’t help myself, I had to say it!)

It’s now 2050 you’re with your kids and perhaps with their family and kids too, and you’re all walking into town one summer Saturday to see all of the “Classic electric cars”. There you find dozens of Leafs, cleaned up, detailed and waxed, many with their original 2011 metallic blue paint all shiny, but with one subtle difference from the Nissan OEM Leaf. A peek underneath reveals that many Leaf owners still use their Leaf as a daily driver, you can tell this by spotting the easy to service aftermarket modular battery made by Fēnix, with its distinctive removable panels protecting each stack of modules residing above from road hazards that threaten them from below. Many of these cars at the show also have the “Powered by Fēnix” badge on the sides and back, just below the now legendary “Zero Emission” badging on the doors and trunk.

Powered by Fēnix
A badge often found on “classic LEAFs in 2050

And like how the Leaf will be an iconic classic EV in 2050, passers-by at the EV car show will see that badge and nod at the owner knowingly, because it’s the same badge so many other Fēnix Power-ed new EVs wear at the dealerships. And as we look around this imaginary world demonstrating of my vision for what 2050 could bring, a local Fēnix service franchise owner sees an opportunity to chat up a Fēnix customer. He asks the owner sitting next to the well maintained Burgandy 2012 Leaf not far from the blue 2011 we were admiring a moment ago, “which generation of modules do you have in that thing? You know the new generation can get your car up to 380 miles indicated on the GOMYou should swing by the shop and check them out, we could have your whole subscription swapped out in about 20 minutes. In fact, yesterday my installer just finished a conversion of a classic Model S to Fēnix using this new generation! You should have seen the look on his face after he took it for a spin!”

2011 "Classic Car"
The “Classic Blue” 2011 LEAF

The Leaf owner nods knowingly and says “I’m still on the modules I installed back in ’42! As for your customer? I bet he still had the original Tesla cells in there, didn’t he? Hard to believe cars used to use batteries that heavy back then… I mean I get it, Tesla did get their batteries to last a really long time, but why would you keep those heavy things in there for 30 years? Everyone knows after the first decade you move them into your house or your business! I would have switched to Fēnix a decade or two ago!

Modern Classics
The most well-known “Classic Car” Electric Vehicles on the roads of 2050

I hope you enjoyed my version of Story Time. Here at Fēnix HQ, we love to talk about and plan for our vision of an electric future. While my story might seem a bit ambitious, and when you consider even with the variety of EVs on the road today, very few have aged past their first decade on the road. The EV market is growing fast, but aging slow! What is important here, is that from a technology point of view there actually aren’t any technical obstacles that would prevent us from achieving that vision of 2050, the only obstacle is the time it takes to get there.

As for 2019, what are we to do about providing some savings for customers just finding us today? Well, that’s easy. We originally planned on raising our installation costs after customer 400, it is still the same $150 deposit but the balance due at install later does change. Before today, we were providing a huge reward for our customers who were reserving so early, 80% off of the planned $1,500 installation cost. And we were all set to lower the discount down to 50% after 400 reservations, with the balance due later jumps from $150 to $600. We simply couldn’t let that discount sunset in the middle of Thanksgiving weekend! So that’s our “Black Friday Deal”, we’re giving everyone 3 more days to get on board now and save $1,200 later!

So, for those that saw the title and skipped right to the end to find the deal , here it is: regardless of how many reservations come in over the entire weekend, we’re keeping our costs due at install on hold at $150, all the way through the end of the workday for Cyber Monday. That means until Monday, December 2nd at 5:00 PM Pacific time, we keep honoring that 80% off the install. You can find our original Turkey Day promo page here for the details of this deal, and some great other information.

Thank you to all of you who already hold reservations, and being patient with us while we raised the capital required to help as many of you as possible. Don’t forget to buckle up and hold on tight, 2020 is going to be one heck of an exciting year for all of us!

-John Bysinger, Founder & CEO of Fēnix Power.

Rushing for Fēnix Power battery reservations!
Rushing for Fēnix Power battery reservations!
Fēnix News

A Quick Look at the Upcoming Mini Electric

When I was at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week, I saw a few very interesting cars and a whole lot of cars that looked like clones of each other, right down to the drivetrains. While not amazing in terms of specs, the upcoming electric Mini is going to at least shake things up a bit.

While it has the same classic-inspired looks as other Minis, they changed a few things. Obviously, they added an electric drivetrain and a battery pack in place of the gasoline-powered inner workings it had before, but they changed a lot of other little things to make it unique.

For starters, they added a lime green/yellow accent package, including touches on the front grille area, custom wheels, mirrors, and a few other areas.

The front grille emblem.
The same emblem on the side marker area.

In addition to the exterior cues, interior cues and controls are set up to not only match the theme, but help create a good driving experience.

While it has digital displays, it’s set up to stay true to other Minis in shape and placement. Also, it still has switches and knobs (for ease of use while driving and keeping one’s eyes on the road).

The shifter and multi-control is set up for simple operation. To go forward, tip the shifter back. To reverse, tip the shifter forward. It gives a good, positive engagement, so you know whether you got it into the right “gear”. Putting it into Park is done with a button, and the parking brake is electronic.

Finally, it’s worth noting that they haven’t finalized the US design. What they showed us at the Auto Show is set up for a European CCS standard, and not the US plug with the integrated J1772 port.

We may yet see changes before they finalize the new design for the U.S. market. Regardless of how all these fun variations turn out, we’re looking forward to building our batteries to fit the Mini too in 2028!

Fēnix News

Why North Carolina?

After our previous post announcing our new facility, we noticed a lot of you asking the same question: “Why North Carolina?”

We know that there are a lot more EV drivers in places like California, Portland, and Seattle (our founders are from Washington, originally), but there are a number of very good reasons we decided to set up shop near Charlotte, NC.

The first thing that led us to North Carolina was how much friendlier it is to manufacturing and actually building things. There was a great pool of investors in that area, but most focused on software and design, but didn’t have a good grasp of the challenges and opportunities available building things instead of software. Investors and our partnering businesses in the area all understand businesses that build real, physical things, and that helps a lot.

There are also much greater challenges in terms of government regulations on the west coast. We intend to run a safe and environmentally friendly operation, but won’t run into as much roadblocks and red tape here.

Positive Things in North Carolina

The advantages to this area aren’t all in the negative. This part of the country also has a lot going for it.

One thing people from other places tend to underestimate is North Carolina’s EV scene. “When I first got to North Carolina, I went to an EV meetup near Asheville,” said our CEO John Bysinger. “More EVs showed up there than to any meetup I had ever attended in Seattle–easily three times as many.”

The truth is, the Piedmont area between Birmingham, Alabama and Raleigh-Durham, NC is going through a lot of rapid change. While not known like Silicon Valley or the major east coast cities for innovation or wealth, that is something that has been changing for decades.

America 2050, a study project identifying regions with great growth happening in the early 20th century, identifies the Charlotte area as part of a greater “megaregion” that includes the Piedmont, Memphis, and Nashville. We have everything from vehicle manufacturing (including the Nissan LEAF) to space industry in our region.

The low cost of living and high quality of life in the Southeast are two reasons for this megaregion’s booming population,” the America 2050 page says. ” The region is facing challenges associated with its growing population, such as increased traffic congestion, runaway land consumption, and inadequate infrastructure, which it hopes to address with sustainable solutions.”

While we already have large cities like Atlanta and Nashville, we are in a unique position throughout the rest of the region to build our growing cities smarter and more robust than other established cities that are dealing with major congestion and pollution issues. Even our large cities still have room for improvement and change that the megacities on the coasts do not enjoy.

Along with this opportunity comes a lot of startups we have the pleasure and opportunity to work with. While we can’t list them right now, we know that our area, and the surrounding region, is a great place to do sustainable business.

Rushing for Fēnix Power battery reservations! News

Big Savings Ends Monday

We’ve decided to extend our current 80% discount for the total installation costs for customers reserving through the holiday weekend! We had originally intended to reduce the discount to 50% once we had passed 400 reservations, but we were on track to break the 400 reservation barrier before the weekend was out!

So just in case you had Fēnix Power on your shopping list this weekend, we’re extending it through “Cyber Monday”!

Find out more about what this discount is and when it ends HERE.

Or just jump right to our reservations page to get in before other holiday shoppers do: Nissan Leaf Reservation.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Fēnix Power!

Fēnix News

Introducing Our LEAF Test Fleet

In a recent post, we gave you a quick peek at our new facility. Yes, we know there are a lot of questions people have about the facility, and we are listening! Soon, we will have posts with answers to most of these questions.

Before we do that, though, we wanted to give a peek at our growing fleet of LEAF vehicles. Our goal is to have a LEAF for every major change made, which means we need most model years on hand. That way, we can test every year to make sure all of our customers get what they need with no ugly surprises.

Most of the customers with the biggest problems are owners of 2011, 2012, and 2013 LEAFs, so we started there.

This is our 2011 LEAF, and his nickname is BlueLeafy. His battery isn’t in the best shape (like many his age), but he’s all ready to help keep many of his brothers and sisters on the road. His nickname (like the others) was given to him by his owner who is lending him to us for our testing. We will be returning BlueLeafy fully upgraded with our technology after testing is complete.

This is our 2012, nicknamed “RedBull”. There’s not a lot to share about this one, other than that it’s also degraded and needs some new life. However, our staff has used this one to run errands, and we know it’s running well before we have had any chance to make repairs or improvements. RedBull can go 30-40 miles on a charge and doesn’t have a CHAdeMO port.

This is our 2013, nicknamed SweatLeaf. This one might have to be more of a teardown and deep-testing car. While it’s degraded like the others, the onboard charger is broken and can’t take a charge any more. For a car that only runs on electricity, and relies a lot on home charging, that’s a far less than ideal condition.

Either way, it’s going to be doing many, many other LEAF owners a huge favor by saving their LEAFs from dying.

Keep checking back or subscribe to our blog to get more updates as we add more years of the LEAF to our testing fleet!

Fēnix News

How Far Batteries Have Come

Fenix is working to help solve big problems for many EV owners with aging batteries, and it’s easy to get caught up in that. What’s harder to see at times is just how far EV battery technology has come in just a few years. Taking a vehicle from a few years ago and adding today’s battery technology can make a huge difference!

One thing I saw at the Ford Mustang Mach-E unveiling really drives this home.

On the bottom is Ford’s first generation hybrid battery pack from a 2005 Escape (made in 2004). The pack is huge, heavy, and hard to fit into a vehicle without either giving up a lot of room or designing it from scratch to fit around it.

Compare this to the 4th generation Ford hybrid battery pack that went in various newer vehicles (the smaller pack on top in the photo). It’s smaller, liquid cooled, and fairly easy to fit in a variety of different places. Little (if any) cargo or passenger room is lost to such a battery.

Most important of all, the small pack holds more energy and does more work than the one on the bottom.

Yes, this image shows us Ford’s advances, but it’s reflected in the industry as a whole. The EVs of 2005 (like the EV1) could only go a few dozen miles. With better batteries today, EVs are able to go hundreds of miles and charge far faster than ever before.

The great thing about taking an older Nissan LEAF (not that far off of 10 years old now) and giving it new batteries is not only about restoring lost range. Newer batteries are more compact, weigh less, and cost far less per kWh of storage than they’ve ever been. By upgrading your degraded pack, you can get all of these advantages and bring your car much further into the 21st century.

Fēnix News

Fenix Power Moving Into New Facility

Before showing off our new facility, the Fenix team wants to thank our loyal customers for their patience and faith in us so far. We know that there have been a number of skeptics on social media, and one of the big questions we keep getting is, “Where are you going to do everything you’re promising?”

After working with our reservation customers, our investors, and our team, we’ve got the funding and plan finalized, and we are ready to get this project started and on the road!

After careful consideration and planning, we’ve finally selected and secured a space to start getting everything ready to re-energize our customers’ vehicles! Without further ado, here’s a peek at the place where it’s all going to happen:

Our new facility, on the outskirts of the Charlotte, North Carolina metro area, has plenty of room to get the job done.

We now have 7500 square feet of space, including about 2500 square feet of office space. With the two largest office rooms, we will have a prototyping lab and a testing room with the frame and electronics of a Nissan LEAF for easy access to the electronic components for testing.

The rest of the office space will be used by our growing team to work together on everything from marketing to making sure we have a steady supply of raw materials for our LEAF customers’ new battery packs.

While several members of our team have had plenty of fun as “shadetree mechanics” in the past, that’s not going to work for Fenix. Keeping all of this work out of the elements not only is better for our team’s comfort and safety, but helps us make sure your vehicle’s delicate electronics work all happens away from the moisture and dust of the outdoors.

Your vehicle wasn’t built outside, so it definitely can’t start its second life outdoors.

Most of our new facility’s space is going to be used for working on our growing fleet of test cars, and eventually, our first customers’ vehicles. With three large bay doors and around 5000 square feet inside, there’s plenty of room for all of our tools that we plan on moving inside in the near future.

Working on a few cars might not seem like it would need this much space, but battery work takes a lot more space than working on combustion cars. Part of the space will be dedicated to assembling pack modules, and then assembling battery packs to fit directly in the vehicles. Once the pack is ready, we need space to remove the old pack, set it aside, and have the new pack ready to roll under and install.

In short, it takes around 2-3x the space as working on combustion vehicles to do all this, but with this new facility, space will not be a problem!

We also need plenty of warehouse room for arriving shipments, and soon, large crate shipments going out.

Another great thing about our facility is that it’s fully equipped with a loading dock for semi-truck pickups and deliveries on one end. When we start bulk orders of battery cells and other materials needed to get your Nissan LEAF (and later other makes/models) ready for a new life, we have things ready to do this safely and professionally.

Also, when we start sending packs out for install at other facilities and independent shops around the U.S. and around the world, we are ready for that, too!

One of the first things to come up the ramp was our test vehicles. To make sure we meet the needs of all customers, we are putting a test fleet together with at least one vehicle from every model year. This way, our customers don’t get any nasty surprises with their new packs!

By having a variety of different vehicles, all of the differences that happen from year to year will be prepared for, and every customer will get the seamless experience they expect when breathing new life into their vehicles.

Be sure to check back soon or subscribe for our blog updates. In our next post, it’s Show and Tell time for the latest additions to the Fenix family: our growing fleet of test vehicles who will be living at this new facility. Like any new pets, they already have names and personalities.

The Electric Speed Shop Fēnix News

The Electric Speed Shop Interviews us!

The driving force behind The Electric Speed Shop, Stan Durk sat down with our CEO John Bysinger for a Q&A session about Fēnix Power, Startup, EVs and how we got to where we are today. The Electric Speed Shop is currently an EV news and information effort to help promote the idea of converting classic cars to electric power. Stan himself is a MOPAR muscle car fan and hopes to build a conversion shop of his own soon, with that in mind he does case-study articles going over the what and how of converting various cars to a battery-electric drive train. Like his interview with our CEO you’ll also find some great long-form interviews with people all around the EV community. Definitely worth finding The Electric Speed Shop on your favorite platform and give them a follow!

The Electric Speed Shop Q&A with Fenix Power

In the interview, John talks about his long time interest in electric vehicles, watching and waiting for the EV market to grow, and how starting his own EV conversion drove him to create Fēnix Power. You’ll also read about how, while working on his conversion seeing the expense and limitations of batteries available for DIY EV builders, he was inspired to develop our Battery as a Service model. It’s a great peek into the origins of Fēnix, as well as some hints at the great things that will come later.

And if you’re an EV fan like we are, give Stan and The Electric Speed Shop a follow or share! You can find them here:

Twitter : @TheElectricSS

Facebook : The Electric Speed Shop

Instagram : @electricspeedshop

Podcast : https://anchor.fm/ElectricSS

Email : [email protected]

The Electric Speed Shop
Fēnix News

Our CEO @ PitchBreakfast!

On Wednesday last week our CEO, John Bysinger, gave a presentation about Fēnix Power at the Charlotte startup event PitchBreakfast. He discussed the Fēnix goal of addressing the EV market need for a large scale, reliable, and affordable aftermarket battery solution for EVs that are no longer covered by their manufacturer’s warranty. He went on to discuss how currently auto manufacturers and their closed and expensive parts replacement options will quickly turn automobiles into disposable consumer items similar to cell phones. Flashy high tech toys that are tossed aside and recycled when their battery is worn out. With the common EV market goal of expanding EV adoption, this attitude is counterproductive not only for the environment but also a horrible way to treat people who are already EV believers!

With this event being a startup business focused gathering, John also provided details on our Battery as a Service business model, our get-to-market roadmap, and our ever-expanding customer interest. But he also stressed the urgency of our customer’s need for a solution, and what it takes to quickly bring them the help that is so desperately needed. After fielding a variety of business and market-related questions from the group, Fēnix Power gained quite a few new followers and introductions from the Charlotte business community. Overall it was a very warm welcome for Fēnix and a very positive response from everyone there.

You can find out more about @Fēnix at @PitchBreakfast through their post about the event, and give them a follow, they will be sharing the video of John’s presentation on YouTube soon!

Uncategorised

Referral Program Update

For our valued Fēnix Power reservation holders, we provide referral rewards that you can share with friends and family interested in joining the Fēnix family. If this is the first you have heard of this, you can find out more here:

Fēnix Power Referral Rewards

We have not changed the terms or levels of our rewards program, but have found a problem with our auto-generation script that creates referral codes for our valuable reservation holders. It seems that a code update two months ago is no longer compatible with the code generation tool we were using and a completely new solution will need to be developed to restore that capability. And since we are working on a complete website revision with a new application framework, it simply doesn’t make sense to rebuild that system from scratch with a replacement on the horizon.

But! That does not mean our referrals program isn’t still active! Simply reply to your order email with “referral code request” in the body of the email reply, or contact us at [email protected] to request your referral code. We will get your unique referral code out to you right away. And remember, for each referral that becomes a reservation, you will earn one free month towards your battery subscription! We already have customers who have earned a year or more of free service through their referrals!