MOVE ALONG..MOVE ALONG… Nothing to see here…move along


Thursday morning, at about 7:30, we sold our last available Renault Influenza/Better Place battery pack.

Wow. Whoops. Or aw-shit. I’m not certain which is more appropriate. But people with publishing experience should NOT dabble in retail sales. That’s clear.

We apparently mispriced the Better Place packs rather eggregiously. I hoped to pretty much clear these out in a month. We actually raised teh price on them to cover the unexpected storage chargers we encountered in Newark. And I rather innocently thought we would move a few this week at $3600 – which is kind of a magic number. $150 per kWh. We would run this “special” until Friday noon.

Thursday morning at 7:30 AM I am greeted with an out of stock message on the online store system and a hysterical Brian Thompson demanding I sell him a battery pack, Siemens motor, and controller. As we had held a few back, I told him ok – I would add one to the stock shown on the store and he could grab it. We did so. He missed. Somebody grabbed it in the few seconds he delayed.

So I had Brain call him and complete the sale by phone.

In truth, we’re not sure how many we’ve sold and how many we have left. We had of course planned to hold a few back anyway. I want to use two on the DOKA project, which by the way, is out for paint to the same guy who did the VW THING. It will be painted the same color. And we want to hold two to break down for the individual modules. We’ll make them available at some ridiculously high price. The packs were sold with no support and no warranty, let me be clear. But inevitably, somebody will need 50 modules for their build instead of 48, and some bad modules will be found I have no doubt. We have to have a few on hand to make people well.


Yesterday, Brian and I were both here working like madmen. Now it should be pretty easy. Get on the web site and order the product, enter a credit card or paypal, and batta boom batta bing. Easy for you. Easy for us. The software keeps track of the inventory. We sit back and watch the cash register ring. Put together the add-ons and label the boxes.

For some reason, life isnt’ like that. And it’s amazing to me the number of variations on a theme that people can come up with. But it is largely a limitation of our software. I need to be able to have a NO SHIPPING option or a WILL CALL option on the billing software. Incredibly, the software we use just doesn’t allow it. One guy wanted to overnight a check. Welcome to 2014. I’ve asked Christopher Fisher to look into a program called MAGENTO to see about moving our store to some more advanced software. But it will be a nightmare and take months of course.

I know many look forward to the Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention scheduled for AUGUST 12-17, 2014 right here at EVTV in Cape Girardeau Missouri. What you may not be aware of is a secret pre-convention we are calling BATTCON 2014 which we have apparently scheduled, without my exact knowledge aforehand, for March 7-8, 2014 right here at EVTV in Cape Girardeau. This Friday/Saturday event promises lots of fun for a number of people driving in to pick up their Better Place battery packs in trucks, trailers, and Saturns. We know Adam and Phil Becker, Brian Couchene, probably Mark Wiesheimer and potentially several othes will be joining us for as Jehu Garcia so aptly put it last August, eat some food, drink some beer, have some sessions…then eat some more food, drink some more beer, have some sessions… Mahwn dahwn. Free coke for the kids!

So the dynamic yesterday was an almost constantly ringing phone from people with questions, concerns, and wanting a little love. And a steady stream of e-mail inquiries, from people with questions, concerns, and wanting a little love. One solar dealer in Australia was incensed that we wouldn’t sell him 10 of them.

And truthfully, the sale did exactly what I wanted it to do. It pushed a LOT of people off the fence who also wanted Siemens or HPEVS motors, controllers, chargers, etc. So we’re not at all complaining. It is spurring builds.

But what we DON’T want to have happen is to have 72 Better Place Battery packs, and in a natural effort to please, sell 79 of them. Because there aren’t any more to be had. Anne we know has already sold about 17 of his 10 we alloted him for Europe. I actually caught our trophy secretary, Phyllis, putting a tag on one box for a guy from Ireland who just demanded to buy direct and insisted she put one on hold for him.

Sorry Vincent. Phyllis is kind of like Lonnie Anderson on teh old sitcom WKRP IN CINCINNATI. She doesn’t actually do filing, dictation, or phone work. She’s just here to look gorgeous and sit out front.

We didn’t do ANY direct sales to Europe. You have to go through Anne, because he has a slow boat to move em that will take five weeks to get there. BUT it is already Hazmat approved with a logistics company that knows how to do this. Understand that shipping lithium batteries at ALL has become vastly more complicated than it was just six months ago, and they are announcing new restrictions weekly. We actually pay $724 per year now for a 24 hour answering service that can answer questions about our battery chemistries from UPS truck drivers who have wrecked their rigs. And we further have to buy stickers with the phone number on it for each shipment.


Bottom line is that I’m a little lost on what Brian agreed to yesterday, and he’s a little lost on what I agreed to yesterday. We’re meeting this morning of course to sort it out. But the bottom line is we’re sold out. Hopefully not “and then some” because we have no way to get well on that. If I wind up with six spares instead of four, I’ll live with it. If mine are gone and I need two more, not so good.

The entire evolution couldn’t have happened at a WORSE time for poor Anne. He has spent the week, all day every day on his feet, at one of Europe’s largest boat shows promoting his “New Electric” line of boats. Meanwhile, I’m forwarding about 120 e-mails to him from people in Europe who want the Better Place packs. He gets 10. Collect em, trade em with your friends. When he originally said he woudl take 10, I know he thought he was going WAY out on limb for his people this time. By Monday he wanted 20. And I had to explain the meaning of life and the riot act of 1934 to him on that one.



But I think that may work out for him. Check out the BLING in these two photos taken at the boat show. And check out that shined up PAINT JOB on that gorgeous little red boat.

I have no actual report and cannot in any event say if the show was a success for him with the European nautical crowd. I CAN tell you it was with me. I immediately ordered a Delta from him – without electricals of course. We’re going to first make me one, and then probably carry them in the store and import them from Holland to the U.S. I think it’s just gorgeous. And I think I can cure the growl or at least tone it down. And I think the Siemens motor will make that thing purr. If it doesn’t, a Hauber Siemens Siemese will turn it into a low flying amphibious airplane which I know how to fly. We’re hoping for a proper prop for ours though. We’ll offer the bare boat at $23K, and a fully blown electric powered model at probably $40-$45k. If he hustles, we can have it put together for EVCCON. It will be kind of like he brought his boat to the show.

I’ve always told him- FROM Amsterdam: go west to the Gulf of Mexico. Turn right onto the Mississippi River. North to the Bill Emerson bridge. We’re the first house on the left.

For all those who were arranging funds and wanting to purchase a battery pack, I am truly sorry. I wish I had 200 of them at this point. Bad call on the pricing (duh – really?).

For all the wives who were helping their husbands “consider the pros and cons.” You are perilously close to losing your situation beyond what you can possibly know. You ARE replaceable whatever he tells you. Take my advice. Don’t say ANYTHING and don’t move. Just freeze for about a week. Not a word. Not an eyelash. Don’t apologize. Just freeze. It will of course blow over. He’s a little like me – the attention span of a four-year-old. Something else shiny will come along….it will be ok. In the meantime, if you don’t move, he actually can’t see you. They can’t see color. They only react to motion.

Long term, probably a good outcome. By demonstrating we can move the iron, and in this case in rather dramatic fashion, inevitably we will attract the notice of others looking to dispose of things. We don’t do it as a public service. Omer profited handsomely on these packs and we did as well. The trick was the distressed liquidation. And I’m hopeful by successfully doing one, with all parties happy with the outcome, that we become attractive to others who need to dispose of a large quantity of useful components.

This was what I was referring to earlier with regards to collective buying power. As you demonstrate a cohesive market, this will attract bling. I have already heard from an Italian entrepreneur in China who has somehow happened into 300,000 of the individual pouch cells. They are “B” grade seconds – discards essentially, and do not have the CAN modules and he wants more than we were charging for these FOB China. Not a good value proposition by any measure. But as time wears away and the pile sits, he might have a change of heart. The Renault packs were unsalable at $10K and probably unsalable at $6K. But at some price, they can be moved. Every dog has his day.

For those that did move swiftly and decisively – congratulations. I think you stole em. And I hope you use them to build the most gorgeous electric cars ever finished by human hands – to the undying envy of your annoying brother-in-law, your know-it-all boss, and that idiot neighbor with the yappy dog. Rub their noses in it. Its’ the only way you can teach them not to crap on the lawn.

And we’ll see some of you at BATTCON 2014. Maybe we’ll make this an annual battery closeout event. Anyone that wants to stop by, it looks like open house on Friday and Saturday, whether we want it to be or not.

42 thoughts on “MOVE ALONG..MOVE ALONG… Nothing to see here…move along”

  1. I’m a little bit sad that I’m currently too impoverished to have taken advantage of this, however we have embarked down the Jehu Garcia recycled laptop cell road already. It seems to be successful, we have charged our prototype with the elcon 3000 watt charged we recently purchased from you and its showing all the capacity I had hoped for on the laptop readout. Anyway, I stumbled across this on ebay, thought you might be interested.

    1. Wow that was quick. I bet jack knows who bought cells from college station, Tx….

      As for the wife problem, we’ll find out next Wednesday. Easier to ask for forgivness then beg for permission. When you let them take it for a ride, they’ll ask for your forgiveness.

      1. Stanley A. Cloyd

        Last September I let Jack and Brian know that a lot more people would be showing up “next year” for out-the-door purchases. I just didn’t make up such a cute term: Batcon. Does this mean we get Jack a black cape and hood with the pointy ears and a copper breast plate?

  2. That battery sale was a truly great thing for the EV community.
    I am really looking forward to seeing what folks do with all of these batteries.
    I wasn’t surprised by the fast movement because it is within reach of most folks doing a build.
    I am surprised at the opportunist nature of that E-bay sale though!

    And I am looking forward to the impromptu get together this week-end!

  3. This is quite possibly the first time I have ever seen lithium batteries incite a riot. Except for maybe the day Better Placed closed.

    Although I did not acquire one, I would like to applaud Jack, Brian, and everyone else who worked tirelessly to make this happen. At no other point in history have modules like these been available to the public, at this price. This is indeed a first.

    Individually, none of us could have made this happen. But thanks to Jack and his refined negotiation skills, the poor can now enjoy the spoils of the rich. Robin Hood strikes again.

  4. Well Jack, I’ve been watching the shop cam and it looks as though you are going to have to start paying Brian Hi-Lo Driver wages! Congrats on the quick battery turnaround!

  5. Doug Ingraham

    I’ve thought about these batteries everyday this week. And on the drive into work this morning I finally decided not to go for one. Of course now I know I would have been too late anyway. The reason I decided not to get them is I still don’t know what my next build is going to be but I know it will be performance oriented and the 200kw for 30 second rating of these cells is not enough for what I am thinking of. Grats to all who were lucky enough to get one. These will make a great pack for just about any daily driver. I think you got a deal! Looking forward to seeing some great builds. Now get out to your garage and start wrenching!


  6. Looking forward to a lot of new rides at EVCCON this year with these battery packs streaming electrons to the wheels….

    A little bird told me BadCat is going to be there. I cannot wait to see it. It truly looks like a full blown HotRod styled EV….

    The boat “Kit” sound like a real winner… I have a “Prop Guy” that makes props for Racing boats and can build one that I think would be ideal for an EV drive system. He keeps trying to retire, but no one will let him…

    I really think this is going to be one very exciting EVCCON!!

      1. Wow, I just got in under the wire! I wish I could make BATTCON but really appreciate Brian and Mark taking one for the team. Thanks Jack for all you and your team do for the conversion community.

  7. Jack,
    When I got home from work this evening, I got online to order one of the battery packs. To my amazememt they were all gone! That was at 5:00 pm west coast time Thursday. I did though see the link “Notify Me When Instock” (or something like that). My question is, and I am sure you have already been asked, since you put the ending to the sale at noon Friday, are you going to honor the sale to anyone who sends their e-mail address in through the link mentioned earlier?

    1. Are we going to “honor the sale”????? Yes, the sale ends at noon tomorrow. As long as you get your order in before then, and before we RUN OUT OF THEM, we’ll be happy to honor it. Unfortunately, we ran out at 7:30 on Thursday morning There aren’t any more. There’s nothing to honor. We’d love to sell you one. I wish I had 200 more. They don’t exist.

      We actually had several people quite angry with us today for running out. I’m not sure quite how to react to that. We wanted you all to have one that wanted one. There are just more that want them than we quite had. Is there something I don’t understand about the question???

      Had you ordered on Wednesday, you’d have gotten one. On Thursday not. That’s because there aren’t any more. Comprendo?

      The way the online store software works, when the inventory counter hits zero it won’t let you order, and offers to e-mail you if and when it is restocked. If you’ll put in an e-mail address, the next time Shah Aghassi gets some goofy idea about switching batteries, raises another $850 million, goes broke AGAIN, we’ll send you an e-mail notification and you can be first in line.


      1. I am happy with all those people who won it and I am sorry with all those who did not.

        Dont worry Jack, just dont move for a moment they wont find you to blame but they’ll see their own image in the mirror when shaving.

        It happened to me too. There are so many things I cannont find until my wife moves them to the bin.

        Sorry I could not afford a pack right now. I am glad it is over but I am afraid Jack will find new ones.

        Peter and Karin

  8. Jack just got done with Internal Combustion. At one point I thought I was having a deja vu moment. It was in the chapter about the Ford and Edison working together. I started to wonder is Shah read this book. When did he start Better Place? Edisons battery swap sounded like Better Place. And if some Tesloid annoys you just say that Edison could do a swap in 75 seconds.

  9. I received my discount batteries at 3 PM Friday. It took 3 hrs to break the pack down into the 3-16 module banks. I really like the way the 16 modules are assembled. I think I will keep this assembly and try to build an enclosure around it. Maybe I can cut up the shipping container for battery box sides. This is a used pack and did not have the maintenance connector with it. Probably still laying on the bench at the testing facility where the electrical engineer left it. Voltages measured 127.6; 127.5, and 127.6 must be top balanced. Oh well we can change that.
    Thanks for the gift Jack. Sorry I’m missing BATCON2014. Rick

  10. Gary Livingston

    To hell with batteries, motors and the like……. I just love to read Jack’s prose. Its the best chuckle I have each week. hehehehe. Luckily for many, he’s as good at supplying and educating the EV community as he is at making me chuckle….

  11. Roger Peterson

    I more than chuckled when I read your blog post about the over-heated battery market. You would think you had just announced a new iPhone for ten bucks!

    Great to read that you were so successful, but I was thinking about ordering… admittedly much too slowly for this crowd! Any more fire-sale buys like this one and you might have consider opening an EVTV Battery Annex — perhaps in the restaurant building across the street.


    1. It looks a lot like Elon Musk. My story is we were trying to do one that looked like Charlie. I wouldn’t lay it off entirely on the Chinese. We have trouble keeping our photographs straight.

      But it is true, that when we then sent in a photo of Brian, it too came back looking like Elon. I guess the Chinese think all Americans look alike. The nice thing is of course that they can’t tell how old we are either.


      1. Technogeekworld

        Some sour grapes involved here,… But I have to stick to my original plan. The CALB chemistry is my choice for a car. The high current delivery , size and plastic brick format appeals to the safety within. But hey 5 G’s is 5 G’s!

    1. Eric Kriss and John Hardy appear to be returning. I’d like to get Brian Seymour back from HPEVS. Edwin Black, author of Internal Combustion has tentatively agreed to speak. Anne Kloopenborg will be back. We are talking with Paulo and Kelso about having a Smart Car build during the week.

      Beyond that, it’s March. I guess we’ll start putting a bit more effort into shaping up the show in the next couple of months.

      Jack RIckard

      1. Jack, since you’ve kept your pack in complete modules, one thing you’re probably not aware of is that between each two cells, on both sides, there’s a little stiffener bar with tabs that stick into holes in the cells where the rods go through. How do I know? Post to follow.

        1. Well, my pack arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and as Jack would say, “therein lies a tale.” We have a long (165-foot) and steep (14-degree) curving driveway. When the UPS guy arrived, he immediately said, “There’s no way I can get my truck up your driveway. So we’re going to have to just leave them at the bottom.” Yikes! Wind was blowing at 40 mph, snow in the forecast, ominous clouds gathering. Since I don’t have access to a forklift and couldn’t life the 150-lb modules myself, I had to take my tools down to the bottom of the driveway and disassemble the pack down to the cell level in a hurry. Took me 5 hours to get the whole thing done. Just after I’d carried the last cell into the garage at dusk, rain stated falling, which soon turned to snow. Hands scraped, back aching, throat raw. But all the cells are safe out of the weather, and all 48 modules ready between 7;82V and 7.86V.

          It was also interesting to learn that there are actually two different types of cells in the pack, which I’ll call up and down (or top/bottom, or strange/charm). If you look at the 16-module pack, you’ll see that the raised, rolled edge always points in the same directly, but for alternating cells, the positive is on top on one, but the negative is on top on the other.


  12. Bridget van Dorsten

    Pack arrived yesterday while I was at school – sans the orange service connector. The pack could not look more heavily used with the kind of scratches suggesting many inserts. The bottom aluminum plate is heavily oxidized. Holding my beath until the weekend when my Dad and I can take it apart and check the voltages. I really should spend the weekend studying for my SATs and working on my college applications but the suspense is killing me!

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