OCEANSIDE, Calif. - If you’ve been keeping up on the news, you might have seen the Volo Lights concept before.
Using compact accelerometers, the Volo Lights license plate frame detects when a motorcycle is decelerating, such as during a downshift, and automatically flashes its red LEDs to serve as a clear warning for vehicles approaching from behind.
Thanks to a motorcycle’s ability to rapidly slow down to engine braking alone, this auxiliary brake light significantly improves a rider’s safety — all without a thought from the rider or complicated integration into the bike’s existing brake system.
Vectolabs LLC, the creator of Volo Lights, recently reached its crowdfunding goal on Kickstarter, then debuted the new product at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show last month in Long Beach, Calif.. We talked with Jesse Szynal, Vectolabs’ director of sales and marketing, to learn about how Volo Lights came to be and where the brand going next.
Dealernews: What brought about the idea?
Jesse Szynal: Me and my business partner and CEO, Faizal Ali -- we’re sitting down one day and he told me he had come up with an idea after riding his bike on [Interstate 5] somewhere near San Diego. He goes to get off the highway, he downshifts one or two gears as he’s making the off-ramp, and he hears screeching behind his bike. He turns to see there’s a guy who just barely missed him; if he hadn’t been towards the side of the lane, this car probably would’ve taken him right out.
So he got to thinking that night about what could be done. He’s a very technical guy, with an electronics engineering background. He asked, “Why don’t we have some method of showing brakeless deceleration?” That’s how the idea was born.
Szynal: I hadn’t heard of too many [motorcycle] products coming from there, but Faizal’s the type of guy that likes to try new methods. We also did some work with Crowdspring. We’re big fans of both, having used Internet crowdsourcing three times now in the development of this product.
We just eked out a successful campaign, with $54,000 of the $50,000 we were looking at. We definitely noticed that once you get closer to your goal, Kickstarter likes to open the floodgates and you seem to hit turbo and launch over the goal.
When can dealers expect mainstream production availability? What’s the price point?
Szynal: We’re sourcing some of our plastics from China, and the boards are made here in the U.S. We did run into some minor paperwork delays in customs, as well as some initial dimpling issues on the prototype plastic molds, but we are shipping in early 2014 as scheduled. Faizal’s experience as a large project manager makes him a good person to “quarterback” these sorts of issues.
Target retail is aiming to be $99 for the license plate frame. We’ve actually had several sources tell us it should be more expensive, around $150 or so, but we’re looking at $99 for the regular and $129 for the carbon fiber version. Finally, we also have a modular version coming that early backers from all over the world requested, which will plug inline with your existing brake lights to add the same functionality as the license plate frame for areas with large or unusually number plate frames.
Are you aiming to sell direct or work through distributors?
Szynal: We’re definitely looking to do both. We’re starting this with our own shopping site, and we are setting up with a couple big name distributors. We still need to sort out costing vs. volume before we can confirm distribution.
For dealers looking to sell our plate frames, we’re aiming for easy-to-achieve minimum orders, as we’re new to the market. We will have a strong minimum advertised price program, similar to Apple’s model.
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