Wheego Electric Cars CEO Mike McQuary Web2Carz

12 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Wheego Electric Cars CEO Mike McQuary Web2Carz отключены
AUDI A8 L Electric Cars

On electric cars and the future of transportation.

I realized that electric-car owners were people who are unafraid to try new technology.

heego Electric Cars first appeared on the scene in 2009 with a two-seat compact car called the Wheego Whip. The Georgia-based company has since begun to make a name for itself in the electric-car community and shows signs of longevity.

Web2Carz had the opportunity to talk to Wheego’s CEO Mike McQuary about the history and his vision on the company’s future.

My last large career experience was starting up the internet service provider Mindspring. We weren’t the first ISP, and there were a lot of big competitors in the space, but our focus was about offering the best possible internet experience, and to that end we always focused on the customer experience and having the best technology to back it up. We grew to be the second largest ISP in the world behind AOL (every year that I was involved we won the JD Powers Award for best ISP) and then conducted a merger with the third largest ISP provider which we named Earthlink.

I stayed on as president and CEO of Earthlink and when I left we had five million happy subscribers.

Jumping forward a few years, I was watching the documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car? I wasn’t so much struck by the story of how the legislation was overturned and the cars were pulled back. But I was moved by the drivers that were interviewed who said things like, “I loved my electric car and was sad when they took it away” or “I would buy another one tomorrow if I could”.The only time I ever heard that in a voice of a consumer in my career had been in my early days at Mindspring when grateful customers would tell us things like, “I love Mindspring and got two co-workers to sign up for your service and here’s 10 extra dollars because I don’t want you to go out of business.”

The Wheego logo.

Why did that resonate with you?

Well, I knew that type of customer and consumer base really well from my days of working at Mindspring. And, I realized that electric-car owners were people who maybe weren’t complete geeks about technology, but who are also unafraid to try new technology, particularly if they could get the proper hand holding and customer service that would make them feel comfortable in answering any questions about the product. And just that, innately said, it sounded like these people need an electric car and I wondered if I could build them one.

That set me about the venture that eventually became Wheego Electric Cars.

Did you think you’d find the same success amidst the established competitors, like Tesla Motors who have already been in the electric-car business for a while?

The Wheego Life.

So, the factual need differs from the psychological need but since people’s buying habits are driven by that psychological need we knew that our cars that needed to go 100 miles on a charge. And, since people were nervous about the technology we also knew the cars had to work reliably; we knew the car couldn’t be complicated to recharge and just be able to just plug it in and know that’ its charging. We also knew people would have questions about any new technology.

Where you’re combining the latest software and hardware, there are certainly issues and you’d want to get someone on the phone right away at the company that could talk them through their issues. We want our drivers to be our biggest advocates or even evangelists for our product and we want them telling their neighbor or coworker that its a great car and they should consider it the next time they’re buying a car. We don’t necessarily want to be the biggest company but we want to have the happiest customers.

Yes. The other thing we’re concentrating on is making the car as affordable as possible. Tesla has done a marvelous job validating the electric car space but frankly it’s a small set of people who could afford to pay100k for an automobile.

And while I think they’re brilliant at what they do they’re after a completely different marketing segment than we are. Our mission is to make an affordable automobile and make electric cars a significant segment of people’s personal transportation needs. Tesla is going to be the dominant provider of cars in the luxury segment we’re going for the affordable car segment-both sport cars and high end luxury sedans-their competitors are Mercedes Benz and BMWs. We’re really at the other end of the spectrum and we’re trying to make the most affordable electric car.

August Electric Vehicle

I can’t see us ever selling a car priced over 55 thousand dollars.

Let’s talk about the benefits of owning an electric car.

Affordability at the gas pump for one, and helping people’s personal home budget by reducing the amount of money they’re spending on gasoline.They also address clean air issues. In our major metropolitan cities air quality is an issue and with zero emissions contributing to that problem, you’ll absolutely be removing a lot of carbon from the atmosphere versus driving a gas powered car. There’s a lot of debate raging about climate change but if you listen to the leading experts, our carbon emissions are affecting changes in the global climate and electric cars are a significant improvement upon that and could be part of that a solution as well.

On the political spectrum, in the US in particular, our foreign policies have been clearly dictated on our dependence on foreign oil and if we could unyoke ourselves from that we’ll make better foreign policy decisions.

Interior of the Wheego Life.

What about skeptics who say that there are still going to be adverse effects on the environment with electricity because there’s coal being burned. Are we trading one form of pollution for another?

What needs to be done to influence the public’s perception about the benefits of electric cars?

A lot of it is simple education. When you get down to the facts and science its really irrefutable. But it’s a lot easier from a lobbying perspective to make it a political issue.

I think clearly most even-minded politicians (left or right) are going to say that electric cars are a good thing but you’re also going to get the radicals on both sides who aren’t going to listen to facts and be histrionic and emotional about what they think people should be doing. But over time facts will bear out and rational thinking is going to replace the political rhetoric and when that happens electric cars will be adopted more and more.

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