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Batterygate! Is it spreading?

Only a week ago, Exway issued an apology statement about how they handled the switch to lower capacity battery cells in two of their electric skateboard models. Yesterday it was WowGo’s turn. Who’s next?

  • WowGo 3: 180Wh (previously 216Wh)
  • WowGo 3X: 216Wh (previously 259Wh)
  • WowGo AT2: 418Wh (previously 504Wh)

Et tu, WowGo?

According to a Reddit post, people started noticing WowGo’s reduced battery capacities weeks ago. It just didn’t get much attention (at least not my attention) until u/Lelle_91 compiled the evidence from various people into a single post.

What happened wasn’t exactly the same as what happened with Exway. Exway at some point changed the batteries and later updated the battery specs on their website. They claim that it happened in that order by mistake.

In WowGo’s case, they changed the batteries and removed battery specs from their website. They claim they weren’t trying to fool customers.

But the end result is the same in both cases: customers didn’t get what they were expecting.

Hold up…

That Reddit post has a glaring mistake though: it states that the WowGo AT2 now uses Samsung 29E cells, which are 2900mAh and 2.75A discharge per cell. That would make the AT2’s 10S4P pack only 11A. Impossible.

I asked WowGo’s CEO Jason about this. He says the AT2 is using a domestic cell called Dongci (东磁) 29E, which is 2900mAh 10A. The person who guessed Samsung 29E likely made that wrong assumption because of the “29E” on the battery label.

Being 10A cells, the battery pack is still 40A like before, but the capacity has dropped from 504Wh to 418Wh.

Is it spreading?

The switch from imported to domestic battery cells is understandable given the worldwide battery shortage, but naturally prospective buyers of electric skateboards have to wonder if this capacity reduction is happening to other brands as well. I talked to two of the biggest e-skate mass producers: Meepo and Backfire.

I’d ask Evolve as well but mutual friends tell me they hate me over there. (I wonder why, lolz!) However we can make educated guesses on what cells they’re using.

By the way, check out my new range calculator! Use it to compare the range of different boards before buying.

Meepo

According to Kieran, Meepo’s CEO, Meepo has dealt with the shortage of imported battery cells by switching their use of Samsung 40T to the more expensive Molicel P42A since November of last year. This covers all of their boards above $500. While the Molicel cells are imported as well, Kieran says they are not in short supply because of their higher cost.

For boards under $500, Meepo has been using domestic cells since 2019 – and also stopped showing their battery specs on their website at that time. I don’t remember any commotion about that. Maybe no one noticed or cared? Maybe capacities remained the same? In any case, they have no need to make any changes now.

Backfire

Backfire’s CEO Randy saw this battery shortage coming a long time ago and the brand has been using domestic 21700 cells since 2019. Only two of Backfire’s boards today use 18650 cells but they too have been using domestic cells since they came out middle of last year.

To reiterate, all of Backfire’s boards today use domestic cells so they have no battery supply issue and don’t need to make adjustments. They still show battery specs on their website, but just the voltage, capacity, and cell size.

Correction (July 15): The Ranger X2, G3 Plus, and G2 Galaxy use imported cells but they simply remain out of stock when their specified battery cells aren’t available to produce more of them.

Evolve

I didn’t talk to Evolve (patent troll) but we can speculate based on what we know.

The Evolve GTR uses Samsung 35E and I believe they will continue to use that cell until they sell out and discontinue the board. It makes no sense to me that they would continue to sell such an outdated and underperforming board in mid-2021 unless they’re overstocked.

Perhaps Team Evolve mistakenly thought that their spike in sales in mid-2020 was due to their ingenious marketing so they produced more GTRs than they should have? (Every PEV brand got a spike in sales during 2020’s COVID lockdowns.)

Matty claiming his video did well for Evolve.
Oh Evolve… 🤦‍♂️

Nope, that video wasn’t a mistake and it did well for us.

Comment from Matty of Evolve Skateboards

Anyway.

Evolve openly disclosed the cell model for the GTR but not the Hadean, so I believe they are using Chinese cells in their $2500+ board. According to sources in e-skate manufacturing, the cells are likely one of these: SunPower (长虹三杰) INR21700-4000, LiShen (力神) LR2170SA, or Haihong (海宏) INR21700-4000.

It’s also possible that Hadean’s cell type hasn’t been finalized since the board won’t ship until September.

Are Chinese cells worse?

I know it’s difficult for some people to crawl out from under the rock and believe that good products can come out of China, but plenty of great products today come from Chinese companies.

I’m not saying that out of some sense of nationalism or anything – I’m not even a Chinese citizen. I just get tired of racism. Oh excuse me, that’s a harsh word for something that’s so rampant. Call it bigotry or stereotypes if that makes you feel better.

Kieran shows various 21700 cells on his YouTube video.
Specs for Molicel P42A, Samsung 40T, and a bunch of Chinese 21700 cells.

Based on Kieran’s recent video about batteries, there are domestic cells that have a good balance of capacity and discharge rate. (LiShen LR2170LA seems to be the standout winner in his table.) They’re likely expensive right now due to shortages.

Meepo and Backfire (and others) have been using domestic cells since 2019. It’s now 2021. If domestic cells as a whole are problematic, we should be seeing more reports of issues from domestic cells than imported cells, but we don’t. So far so good.

In any case, use of Chinese brand cells in mass production electric skateboards and other PEVs is now the norm and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

Shopping for an electric skateboard? Be sure to visit my discounts page to get the best deals!

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News

Evolve Skateboards makes desperate moves. Beginning of the end?

Evolve has applied for a patent in Australia claiming to have invented the electric skateboard. But obviously Evolve did not invent the electric skateboard.

This post has been updated. New info added to the end.

Gas-powered skateboards came on the market in the 1970s. Wireless electric skateboards came in the 1990s. Evolve was founded in 2012.

Evolve founder Jeff Anning himself stated in a video that he got the idea of making electric skateboards because he saw someone else on one.

But surely Evolve invented something, right? And they did, sort of. They put double kingpin trucks on an electric skateboard. Does that count? Seriously, that is as close to an invention as they get.

Gullwing Sidewinder truck clearly visible in Evolve’s YouTube thumbnail.

They first used Gullwing Sidewinders (the original double kingpin trucks) and then made their own copy and named them Super Carve. Sorry, Evolve fans – Evolve didn’t invent those trucks either.

Oh but now with the Hadean they have that drop-in enclosure which doesn’t offer any benefit to customers. It just lets Evolve call their deck a forged carbon fiber deck when it’s actually mostly plastic. Will they patent that?

What will Evolve do with this patent? We don’t have to wait to find out. According to Scott Davies:

Evolve have sent letters from their legal team to a number of ESK8 brands demanding they stop selling their Carbon boards in Australia, they have also demanded they turn over % profit and destroy stock & a number of other demands.

Community post on Scott Davies YouTube channel

Evolve Skateboards’ legacy

First electric skateboard company to use double kingpin trucks.

First and only electric skateboard company to make a racist video.

First and only electric skateboard company to become a patent troll.


Update – July 9, 2021

Evolve has made a response to this stuff:

The patent was applied 4 years ago and has since been approved. It does not apply to the entire concept of an electric skateboard, Evolve has been very clear that they did not invent this. It specifically addresses a moulded Carbon deck with a series of other claims about internal electronics accessible from the top cover etc. A board must infringe against ALL claims in the patent or they have nothing to worry about.

Evolve Ambassador comment in Evolve Skateboard Owners Intl. Facebook Group

So Evolve actually intended on being a dick since 4 years ago but just hadn’t been able to.

Do they really believe that a “moulded carbon deck” with “internal electronics accessible from the top cover” is some sort of innovation that deserves to be protected?

For those who don’t understand, this is basically a lid you unscrew to access the inside – like unscrewing your computer case, or unscrewing the back of your watch, or unscrewing the vent cover on the floor.

Evolve Skateboards, like all other e-skate companies, benefited from a sea of incremental innovations that came before them in skateboards, radio control, batteries, etc. And now they’re threatening competitors with a patent on a conventional lid.

Fuck off, Evolve.

Categories
News

Exway Batterygate

Exway is in hot waters for changing the batteries for the Exway Flex and Exway Wave electric skateboards without informing buyers ahead of time.

Exway apology letter

What happened

The Exway Flex and Wave had been out of stock for some time. I wasn’t following this closely so I don’t know how long, but I believe many had been waiting for more than a month. Customers were however still able to place pre-orders.

Around the end of last week, people started receiving their pre-ordered boards. And shortly after that, reports of battery discrepancies began to surface.

Instead of 259Wh batteries for the Exway Flex, customers received 216Wh batteries. And for the Exway Wave, instead of 216Wh batteries, they got 180Wh.

Although Exway’s product descriptions on their website do show the reduced capacities (though nobody knows exactly when the site was updated), there was no announcement or alert of any kind to make buyers clearly aware that the battery capacities had been reduced.

Basically nobody knew about this change until after they received their boards. Unsurprisingly, people are upset.

Why it happened

Yesterday (Monday) I spoke with my contact person at Exway. He had only just returned to work after being away for two weeks so he himself had to find out what this hubbub was about.

According to Exway, this is what happened:

The new batteries with the reduced capacities were not supposed to be used on the Flex and Wave until the end of this month (July) after proper announcements and whatnot had been made. The production team went ahead and used the new batteries by mistake.

As for why they decided to switch to lower capacity batteries in the first place, the gist of it is that there’s a worldwide shortage of battery cells due to both an increased demand from electric cars and raw material shortage for battery producers. Exway had to find alternative batteries and after testing several domestic options, they felt the ones they chose were the best overall for the Flex and Wave.

The original higher capacity batteries have been sent out to Exway’s various resellers around the globe. So if you buy a Flex or Wave from a reseller, you may still get the original battery. But eventually, all new Flex and Wave units will use the new batteries.

What Exway is doing about this

Exway has posted an apology notice on their various social media accounts and published a blog post. Customers affected can either return the board for a full refund or keep the board and receive a $50 refund.

My thoughts on all this

This reflects badly on me. My Exway Flex and Wave videos on YouTube are some of the most viewed videos covering those two boards. More than a few people have told me personally that my videos were their main reason for purchasing the Flex and Wave.

I literally have the words “everything you need to know” in my Exway Flex video’s thumbnail. And among the things people needed to know was that the Exway Flex has a 259Wh battery. But now it doesn’t, and neither myself nor the customers were informed ahead of time.

This is not the first time Exway has had to issue an apology over the past year, but this instance is probably the first one that qualifies as a scandal. The past were all for missed delivery dates.

With each apology, Exway gave customers some lame gifts or small refund as compensation which only added insult to injury. (Well the quick charger was nice.) I hate to say this but this seems like Exway’s M.O.: fuck up, apologize, offer compensation. It’s sad, and I’m saying this as a fan of Exway’s products.

I told them the $50 refund would not be received well, and it wasn’t, but I honestly don’t know what they could have offered to placate the upset customers. $75? $100? I have no idea. The fuckup shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

What now?

Buy Backfire!

I can’t imagine this being anything other than a big blow to Exway’s reputation. The only way they can recover from this is to stop having things to apologize for and slowly rebuild their image.

I’ll still use their products of course. And I am looking forward to their upcoming X1 Max more than any other upcoming boards that I know about. But I can’t ignore the fact that this incident has damaged people’s trust in the brand.

If you’ve been considering getting the Flex or Wave, should you still get one?

For the Flex, I suppose you need to see if the reduced range meets your needs. (Take off 16.7% from range tests from reviews.) If range is important to you, Backfire Zealot S is a popular alternative.

As for the Wave, I can’t really think of an equal competitor in terms of features and polish. Range was never the Wave’s strength so I don’t think the new battery impacts the Wave as much as it does the Flex.

The Wave is my most frequently used board right now and I’d still recommend it for people who want something portable for short range travel in the city. Just be aware that you should reduce any range test results you see for this board by about 16.7%.

Here is Exway’s blog post about this ordeal.

Categories
News

Police confiscated my Exway Atlas

Shanghai – and possibly all of China – doesn’t allow personal electric vehicles to be used on public roads, and not even sidewalks. The enforcement of that rule varies a lot. Sometimes the traffic cops ignore me, sometimes I get a warning, sometimes I get fined. Yesterday was the first time they took away the board. It was the Exway Atlas during my 2WD street wheels range test.

The officers told me I need to go to a police station on Monday to get the board back. Sounds simple enough. That means I have to postpone the big comparison shoot I had planned for Monday. The problem is that while the board is confiscated, it will likely be kept outdoor along with the confiscated cars and scooters – and the next couple days will be raining.

Police confiscating Exway Atlas

That is a huge problem. Electric skateboards and other PEVs (and most electronics in general) should not be left out in the rain, even if they claim to have some kind of IP rating. Water finds its way into places if you give it enough opportunity.

Best case: some replaceable parts get rusty. Worse case: something gets corroded and the board loses performance or fails. Even worse: the board catches on fire while charging or riding. And the very worst case: everything seems fine but weeks later the board starts shooting flames at home while unattended.

When I go get the board back, I’ll find out if it was left outside in the rain. If so, I’ll have to take everything apart as much as I can and carefully inspect them. Sigh.


Update: I got it back! See video below.

Categories
News

Exway Atlas now available for pre-order

Exway has started taking pre-orders for their highly anticipated Exway Atlas. I went through their product info page as soon as it was live and recorded my thoughts in the video above. I don’t have a sample board yet but I will be reviewing it soon.

Ready to buy?

If you’re set to buy one already, you can use my referral discount to save $165. When checking out at Exway’s website, enter two discount codes: DKWAN and EXWAYATLAS150.

If you have any trouble getting the discount, please contact me.

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Exway Atlas Teasers

Exway has released some teaser content for the upcoming Atlas all-terrain electric skateboard. With these photos and video they’ve essentially confirmed that there will be a 4WD version. I think I can mention that there will be a 2WD version as well.

Smart placements for the ShredLights as they’d always light up where the wheels are pointed. Imagine a pair of SL-1000s on there. Blind everyone heehee.


By the way check out my discounts page for the best deals on ShredLights, Exway boards, and more!

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Help end bad e-skate customer support

If you have a defective electric skateboard and the brand you purchased from is not honoring their warranty, let me know about it through my Customer Support Feedback form.

Please understand that filling out this form might not make any difference to your individual support case. (Or it might. Who knows?) The purpose of this form is to help persuade these brands to improve their customer support processes.

I can see how this form could be easily abused. If that happens, I’ll have to disable it. Just letting you know now in case you see the form disappear in the future.

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Giveaway 2020!

My YouTube channel recently reached 20,000 subscribers! To celebrate this milestone, I got a few prizes to give out. Much thanks to the prize sponsors! Show them some love!

Exway
Check out their back-to-school sale at exwayboard.com.

ShredLights
Check out their new products at shredlights.com.

ATSA Everyday
Really fantastic esk8 backpack at atsa.co.

Boa Wheels
Wide and beautiful longboard wheels at boawheels.com.

Prizes

There are 4 prizes, and each prize will have 1 winner.

  • Exway Wave Riot Standard Kit (value $749.00)
  • ShredLights Night Ops Pack (value $174.99)
  • ATSA Everyday Esk8 Backpack (value $199.99)
  • Boa Wheels 90mm wheels and ceramic bearings (value $160.00)

How to Participate

Complete all of these steps!

  1. Subscribe to Exway’s newsletter at exwayboard.com.
  2. Follow @exwayboard6 on Instagram.
  3. Follow @shredlights on Instagram.
  4. Follow @atsa_everyday on Instagram.
  5. Follow @boawheels on Instagram.
  6. Leave a comment on this Instagram post and tag two friends. Do this only once!

Winners will be announced on the Daniel Kwan Extras channel on YouTube. Be sure to subscribe and turn on notifications! Further details below.

Rules

You must be 18 or older.

You must complete the participation steps before the end of September 12, 2020, Pacific Time.

The prizes are an Exway Wave Riot (value $749.00), ShredLights Night Ops Pack (value $174.99), ATSA Everyday Backpack (value $199.99), and Boa Wheels Hatchlings Wheels and Black Belly Ceramic Bearings (value $80.00 + $80.00). 1 winner will be selected for each sponsor’s prize or prizes, so in total 4 winners.

Winners will be selected and announced within a week after the participation deadline. Winners will be selected randomly either by software or by a person or persons with no stake in this giveaway.

Winners will be announced on the YouTube channel Daniel Kwan Extras (https://www.youtube.com/danielkwanextras/). Winners will also be added by @dkwan on Instagram to be reached there. If you are a winner, you give permission to publicize your name and likeness on any platform (such as YouTube) to announce you as the winner.

If a winner cannot be reached by end of September 2020, the prize will be forfeited.

Prizes may be shipped only to countries where the prize sponsors sell their products. If you don’t have a suitable mailing address, you may offer the prize to someone else to receive.

You hold Daniel Kwan and the prize sponsors harmless in the event that the prize or sweepstake in some way negatively impacts you.

This sweepstake may be canceled, suspended, or modified if any fraud, technical failures, or any other factor impairs the integrity or proper functioning of the sweepstake as determined by Daniel Kwan or the prize sponsors.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Instagram or YouTube. You release YouTube from any and all liability related to this sweepstake.

Any personal data collected will be used only for contacting the winner.

No purchase necessary.

This sweepstake is void where prohibited by law.

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Free stickers offer resumed, BUT…!

In my previous post, I wrote that I paused the free stickers offer. I’ve now decided to resume sending out free stickers, but I added a notice to the request form warning people that they might not receive them, and that I can’t send to certain countries right now.

While some people did not receive my stickers, others did, so I’d like to keep sending them so that at least some people get them. Besides, what else am I going to do with all these stickers I ordered?

I would still like to change my freebie offer to something else though, something that doesn’t involve shipping. If you have a good idea, please let me know!

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Free stickers offer paused for now

For many months, I have been sending out stickers to people who have supported me and my YouTube channel in some way. Unfortunately, I think most people have not been receiving my stickers lately so I’m pausing this activity.

I just came back from the post office to mail out a batch of stickers. I was informed by the clerk that several countries can’t receive international mail right now. He named a few countries but wasn’t sure if there are more.

Please help me think of something else I can offer as a thank you to my supporters! If you have a great idea, let me know.


Those of you who requested stickers this month before I disabled the request form, I will still send out your stickers in August as planned. But again I don’t know if they will arrive or not.