Schieffelin is fine with the idea of customers performing final assembly. “It’s OK with me because I’m not taking any risks or costs or liabilities. Our main thing is that we don’t want the liability,” he says.
But he adds: “This is a business model that I think if I were out in the sticks of rural Pennsylvania, I wouldn’t be too happy with. But being in Manhattan with the cost structures that I have, I think it’s pretty perfect because I don’t have to hold an inventory of them. I don’t have to rent real estate for them. All that stuff is very, very expensive in New York, so it’s better and more cost-effective for me to have them drop-ship it and have me just promote, market and demo it. I think I’m kind of in a unique market in that way.”
Schieffelin is not as confident as Glanville that Zero Motorcycles will go out of its way to ensure he’s paid — as it says it will. “I’ve been in business long enough that if there isn’t an audit trail, my experience is you don’t get paid. But that’s nice of them to say that. We’ll see what happens.”
Vespa Soho will work on the bikes, though Schieffelin is not expecting much service revenue. “The chassis-related stuff is all standard motorcycle stuff, and as for the electric side of things, it doesn’t sound like there’s much to service,” he says. “You have a controller, a battery pack and a motor, and they’re all solid-state with the exception of the one spinning part in the motor, which should be pretty reliable. So we don’t see there being a lot of service on them. Maybe for a traditional dealership model, that’s less attractive because you don’t have a real revenue stream.”
Schieffelin contends that the Earth-friendliness of the bikes makes up for any lost revenue. New Yorkers, he says, typically “would rather do the right thing as long as there’s not a big sacrifice for it.”
(Editor’s note: When obtaining testimonials, Dealernews prefers to locate dealers independently. But the rep locator on Zero Motorcycles’ website lists the location of each rep anonymously. Customers contact Zero, and it passes on the lead to the rep. We searched the Internet for Zero reps who were also powersports dealers, but we were unable to find any. The only rep we did find was Mountain Utility Electric Vehicles in Carbondale, Colo.
So we contacted Zero Motorcycles to obtain the contact info for the two dealers profiled here. Zero says that its rep network includes about 18 powersports dealers in the U.S. and Canada. About 27 other reps own other businesses or operate out of their homes.)