In discussing with our team, we’ve found people are asking some of the same questions, so I’m posting to try to help clarify everything. I also want to thank one of our customers, let us call him “JD”, for asking all of them in one email to us. Aside from a couple of edits to respect JD’s privacy, his questions are as follows:
How does this work from a payment standpoint? Am I paying the $600 I owe for the install for a CPO battery to be installed temporarily, switching this one out for the new battery at no additional charge once they become available, and starting up my subscription payments from that point?
In JD’s case, he paid a $150 reservation at a time when our installation cost discount was 50%, this leaves an installation cost balance of $600 for him. Since our original announcement that discount started at 90% and over time reduced to 0. Our installation cost for both CPO and later our Fēnix battery is $1,500. This cost is fairly fixed and helps us cover the very expensive cost of shipping to the installer, and return shipping for recycling along with our installer’s labor. We found this helped us achieve some virality pre-production and helped us nearly eliminate expensive advertising while the company was young.
Our customers will only ever pay an installation fee once. For example, a customer electing to install a CPO battery, will not incur an installation cost when our Fēnix battery is installed later. Similarly, a customer who’s current battery is not yet in need of replacement and elects to wait for our Fēnix battery installations to begin, will retain any installation discount their early reservation earned.
As for the subscription, our CPO battery’s terms are simple, $150 per month for 24 months, with the option to continue our warranty for $14.99 at the end of 24 months. However we believe most will wish to convert to our Fēnix battery, which will have it’s own subscription terms. The Fēnix battery’s subscription will be a bit different due to our modular design that allows for variation in installed capacity. It will be per kWh, per month, with a target at launch between $2 and $3 per kWh. Due to the nature of our CPO battery’s subscription, we may carry over some of the CPO subscription cost into the Fēnix subscription payments if we replace the battery prior to the end of the 24 month term. We hope to find a way to offset that cost as our CPO solution is intended to be temporary, so we’re seeking ways to provide incentive for the switch rather than an obstacle.
Do you all have any current ideas on when you’ll be starting up the new battery installs?
2020 has been a difficult year for many reasons, one of our most disappointing impacts this year was having our lead investor halt progress on their investment due to fears of market instability following COVID-19. Quite recently they have come back to working with us and signs look good that we’re going to be moving forward, which is great news. However, this investment was plagued with delays many months before 2020, and was primarily intended to push hard into the final needed R&D and production costs for our Fēnix battery. What all of this means is our anticipated battery solution will likely arrive for installations in early to mid 2021.
It is these unfortunate delays that led us down the path of launching our CPO solution and build our installation network now rather than ask our customers to keep waiting. We see this as an excellent opportunity to keep moving forward on the software and installation network that our battery will depend on when it arrives. And even better, when it is ready, we should have 100 installers or more nationwide, and possibly internationally ready to perform conversions for hundreds of subscribers already being supported by Fēnix.
If I register for a CPO battery install, am I going to be at the back of the install line or will I be placed in a similar spot to where I would have been since I was an early reservation?
No one will lose their “place” in line. This has been something of a point of confusion for our customers, as it is easy to make the assumption that there is one single large line. In reality, we essentially have dozens of lines in markets around North America. With the CPO battery our suppliers (both battery and pairing tools) are capable of shipping out dozens, if not 100 or more per month, so our actual bottleneck is at the local market installers.
In large markets where we have numerous reservations we’re developing relationships with multiple installers. This will help reduce any wait times, help customers with greatly reduced range have closer installers, and provide our customers local choices if they have a less than ideal experience with their installer. In short, quite soon we’re confident that we will all but eliminate the feeling of having to wait in line for battery help.
And when our Fēnix battery goes into production, here too we have an advantage. We’re building our solution to be highly modular and universal in application. What this means is our production will have more in common with mass produced consumer electronics than it will with highly complex automotive manufacturing. Once we get our production line running, scale can follow by building many duplicates of the same line. (This is how Tesla was able to achieve battery cell manufacturing dominance so quickly, they used much the same technique. By scaling in parallel rather than only in speed, their Gigafactory(s) have been able to live up to the name.)
I’ve seen that you have an installer nearby Charlotte NC (I’m about two hours away). Could you provide a bit more detail on where this installer is located, and whether you have a planned install partner somewhere closer? Basically, I’m trying to figure out what I would need to do about getting my car (with its not great current range) to an installer and am trying to figure out where would be my closest option.
It is our goal to find installers within 50 miles of our customers at launch, and intend to drive that closer to 25-30 within 2020. Some of our installers will also be able to assist with vehicle transportation as well, we’re finding several own their own towing or flatbed trucks. We may offer this as an add-on expense for our customers at a later date, perhaps by fall. We have found several plan to offer this at no additional cost, but we leave this up to those businesses at the moment, and will inform local customers during scheduling if it is available.
In the mean-time, to help everyone out what we can do is provide a list of the cities where you can find our current target installation partners in progress. You can find it at the bottom of our Local Installation page. If you don’t find a nearby installer on that list, don’t fret! We’ll find an appropriate business nearby for you, that’s part of our service! Despite the bumpy road that led us to today, it is our goal to make this as simple as possible for our customers. This becomes critically important for us when we launch our modular Fēnix batteries later, in order to make the system last in a near-new state indefinitely, it requires we build an installation and service partner network in as many convenient locations as is possible. And it is thanks to our reservation list that we already have great data on where you need us most.
We hope that helps answer questions for JD and for many more of you, and if you’re among those who have reached out to our [email protected] inbox, but are waiting for a reply, please be patient, we will answer each and every one of you. We’re a bit time-constrained putting all of this together for everyone at the moment but plan on hiring dedicated support staff to get more timely replies to everyone quite soon.
One more answer:
And one more question that needs to be answered for everyone: We should be ready to start taking subscription orders this coming week! We’re waiting for our business partner to finish their final configurations and expect to officially announce that launch early next week.
Founder & CEO of Fēnix Power