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.