Brammo in DC- LA Times tells a little more of the story…


OK, according to this LA Times coverage, there’s a little more to the Brammo Shocking Barack agenda than we’ve heard.

After they arrived in Washington, the riders and Brammo CEO Craig Bramscher met Tuesday with officials from the Energy Department and with lawmakers, including their home state senators. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Brammo, which employs 52 people at its southwestern Oregon plant, was poised to become an economic driver for the state.

The company is lobbying to extend an Energy Department grant program to include two-wheeled vehicles. It also wants to expand a 10-percent federal tax credit available to electric vehicle buyers under the economic stimulus law.

Now, I’m getting torn about this caper. There are a few things that really started eating at me… with this story, I’m wondering why we didn’t know about these meetings and the E.D. Grant program side of the story. I know Schiff got a haircut, I didn’t know there was lobbying going on. From the site and the tweets, it sounded like nobody got to talk to anyone… strange. Somehow this makes me feel cheap, and used… well. That’s not something unusual for me…

Here’s what’s bugging me.

First, OK, they’re retracing the trip of the CEOs in a big jet, for $4. Fine, but they flew two motorcycles in from Oregon with a crew of 6. Now, I could do the math if I didn’t hate math so much, but my guess is they’re spending more for the trip than the CEOs in their Gulfstream. OK, OK, I get the point, but this is really close to just plain spin. A budget of zero? I think not, and now you’ve squandered your most precious gift- my trust.

Next, am I really supposed to believe that they’re taking 3 weeks of a head engineer and a creative director’s time to do this trip and waddle around Washington ringing doorbells? If not, and from the story above it appears not, then why don’t they just dish and tell it? If so, then here’s my biggest concern. Did they really, truly believe that Washington DC is going to drop everything and meet them? That President Obama will walk out, at the drop of a hat, and help them sell their products? (“Sales event”, by the way, is what one contact they quoted called this…)

This just makes them look naive and unrealistic, and reinforces a lot of the impressions of what the EV industry is all about- either the ultra-rich who can afford a Tesla, or a bunch of dreamers who have no grasp on reality. There’s enough out there to fight, misconception-wise, about EVs without help. Sorry, guys, I’m just sayin.

Finally, and this is petty, I know, but jeesh. This is being touted as some holy grail, to bring a solution to America’s transportation and economic problems to the attention of Washington DC and the American People. Seriously, what this is is a publicity stunt, pure and simple, in the grand tradition of all publicity stunts, and it curiously coincides with the product release (this weekend, I believe) of the Enertia at Best Buy. It is a Sales event, not a political statement. Again. Cheap and used…

Want an interesting read? Read this Op/Ed piece by Frank Rich about Balloon Boy’s dad. He makes the point that during times of economic recession and depression, desperate publicity stunts start coming out of the woodwork. It really, really bothers me that this caper could even be close to being considered a publicity stunt by anyone. Especially by me…

Brammo? This was a great trip, and could have, if the cards were on the table, served us all in the EV community really powerfully, sorry for the pun. I just wish you’d called it what it is… Sales and Marketing, and left the high horse at home.

Funny, early on I got on the comments section of a blog supporting the effort. I still support it, and it’s been interesting to see how they’ve done things and how effective it’s been. Although they have only just over a thousand followers on Twitter, it looks like the national press is picking it up now, and who knows where it’s going to go… but I’d ask this. If it does go big, and you do get some press, then decide if you’re just releasing a product, or you’re carrying a bigger cross. And no, you can’t have it both ways.

Oh, one more thing, and this is clearly me being a bitch. “The first American Electric Motorcycle”? Now, granted Vectrix is a scooter, and was assembled in Poland I guess, but c’mon. Maybe it’s just because it’s a company down the road from me, in New Bedford, MA, but these guys have been around for a while, and did a great job, and are holding on by their fingernails. Now is the time to close ranks and support everyone, and Vectrix needs all of our support, from every quarter. It would serve Brammo well, as well as this industry, to give credit where credit is due.

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