Electric Bicycles: The 'Gateway Drug'
By EV World Video
How a self-professed 'eco-terrorist' went from peddling chemicals to the automotive industry to an eco-trenpreneur selling electric bicycles to the stars.
"I am an eco-terrorist turned eco-trepreneur."
That's how Don DiConstanzo bemusedly sees himself now after running two successful companies automobile supply businesses. According to his LinkedIn bio, his last company, ZAK Products, provided franchise car dealerships "with industry leading professionally formulated fluid maintenance chemical products and complete car wash systems." Prior to that, as president of Wynn Oil Company,founded in 1939, he supplied the professional installer market with "automotive specialty chemicals, service equipment and Complete Automotive Maintenance Programs."
Clearly he knows and has done well in the automotive industry. Yet in 2007, a year before he cashed out of ZAK Products, he started Pedego, an electric bicycle company.
Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Why did he do it? Because he saw a need.
He owned a home near the beach in southern California and it was an uphill ride back his house. He thought having electric-assist would help make the climb a bit less tedious. His first electric bike did the job alright, but he thought he could create something better. Pedego resulted.
Today, some seven years later, it's one of the fastest growing electric-assist bicycle companies in America. The company just opened several more Pedego stores and now has some 40 dealers across the United States and Canada. The company's big seller up to now has been its colorful beach cruisers. Unlike most e-bike companies that offer their bikes in just three or four colors, Pedego has some 18 colors to chose from. Don's bikes are powered by rear hub motors and lithium battery packs, generally mounted on a bracket over the rear wheel.
When Ford Motor Company went looking for a supplier for their own branded electric bike, they chose two companies: Dahon for a small folding city bike and Pededgo for a cruiser-style, pictured above.
The other interesting thing about Pedego has been its ability to attract celebrity customers including actor William Shatner and his wife Elizabeth (his fourth marriage and 30 years his junior). Then aged 81, Shatner had given up his motorcycle in exchange for a couple of converted electric bicycles. The couple decided to replace them with a pair of Pedegos. That moment was capture in the photo below.
Most recently, late night TV host Jimmy Kimmel had his staff present a Pedego to a good Samaritan on Earth Day.
It's Don's intention to have 1,000 Pedego stores globally by 2020. He continues to introduce new bikes - the newest being the commuter-style bike Kimmel presented on his late night TV show. It's turning out to be one of Don's best seller.
Maybe his more interesting comment during our EV World Dialogue - and one connected to his own ownership of a Tesla Model S - is that electric bikes are a 'gateway drug' to electric cars and visa versa, he explained. He wouldn't have bought the Model S (he has two more on order: the longer range 85kWh pack and a Model X for his wife) had it not been for the experience of riding an electric bike.
If electric bikes are a 'gateway drug' to a cleaner, more sustainable transportation future, then I happily confess to being a 'pusher.'
EV World Dialogue Video Interview
Originally published: 16 May 2014
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