Last month we brought you up to speed on nearly every component of the M1™, from the improved Manta Drive™, to the custom motor controller, to refinements in the deck shape. We disclosed our progress and roll out plan for the Vision Mobile App™, and talked about features that will be standard on every PowerShift Battery™.
For this month’s update, we’re going to check in on the development of these components, talk about battery safety and production, and unveil details regarding our plans to ramp production. We’ve got many of our production components arriving daily from our vendors. This is the most exciting time for Inboard as we enter the final stretch before shipping you your board!
In last month’s update we talked about the decision to use cylindrical lithium ion cells, as opposed to flat cells, in our PowerShift Battery. The importance of using the highest quality lithium ion cells has been clearly illustrated with the banning of hoverboards on most commercial airlines from fires caused by cheap batteries. This is a product quality area that we’ve had our eye on for some time now, and reinforces the importance of Inboard’s mantra of using only the safest and highest quality components from top tier suppliers.
Only the biggest name brands in the industry manufacture lithium ion cells that fully maximize safety. Since supply is limited, this creates a high demand amongst these reputable suppliers. If it wasn’t for Neal Saiki working with Inboard, and Neal’s relationships with these vendors when he was leading battery development at Zero Motorcycles, these top tier suppliers wouldn’t even consider Inboard. While demand for the M1 is high, our market pales in volume to the burgeoning electric car market, where similar cylindrical lithium ion battery cells are used in the most popular electric car.
These battery manufacturers are oversold, and it will take longer to produce our first shipment of batteries than we first expected. Because of this delay, we need to adjust our shipping timeline accordingly. The good news is that we will soon be announcing a partnership with the number one lithium ion battery supplier in the world. This is a respected brand that many of our riders will already be familiar with, and one that will be capable of meeting our increasing demand in the future.
To accommodate battery safety certification, production and delivery, we will be delaying shipment until April 2016.
We fully realize this will come as a disappointment to some backers, but a great many of you have expressed the importance of delivering a rock solid product the first time around, even if it means a slight delay. Inboard has a set of core values where we believe it is our responsibility to deliver the safest product possible. Ryan Evans, CEO of Inboard, addresses this directly.
"At Inboard, we take this very seriously. We're all riders. Our team of engineers, designers, marketing, and sales specialists, all ride. Our customers ride. We feel the excitement and anticipation of the final M1 because we, like you, want nothing more than to be riding the M1 every day. While Inboard is the leader in the electric skateboard market for both product design and product features, we also intend to be the safest. We are confident that this decision will create a better, safer, and more reliable product.
We’ve been thrilled with the support from Inboard’s Kickstarter Backers and pre-order customers on this topic! There has been an overwhelming amount of positive support and understanding… and beyond that, encouragement to create the safest and most reliable product. Thanks to Inboard’s removable battery and high quality battery cells, we should always be 100% airline compliant. The team at Inboard wants to thank all of our backers for their continued support through this delay.”
The shipping deadline has been adjusted according to the timeline above. If you’re reading this as a Kickstarter backer, Inboard will begin delivery in April 2016. Inboard will fulfill the first 50 units first (as specified on Kickstarter), and then ramp to the remaining Kickstarter Backers. If you preordered between April and July, your estimated delivery is May 2016. If you preordered between August 2015 and today, your estimated delivery is late May to early June 2016.
On the motor front, we’re happy to report that design and testing of our custom motor is complete and pre-production Manta Drives are on their way! These new motor assemblies include an updated design of our encoder. This very precise device acts as the eyes and ears of the motor controller and continually sends information regarding the current state of the Manta Drive. This information allows the motor controller to apply varying amounts of power at different stages of motor operation, whether climbing a hill or accelerating from a complete stop, to maximize power and efficiency.
Over the past month, Inboard electrical engineers Tony and Jared have worked night and day to finalize the next revision of our custom motor controller. Inboard’s final revision of the motor controller will be arriving shortly after the new year. Tony and Jared have also made great strides with the motor controller firmware, finalizing many of the drivers necessary for everything from motor control to LED light control. Lastly, Inboard has partnered with a leader in over-the-air (OTA) update implementation to make ongoing M1 firmware updates simple and reliable. These are updates we will be able to push through the Vision Mobile App directly to the M1. This has been a very challenging area for other manufacturers and Inboard is thrilled to be working with the best in this field.
New Addition: Tim Miller
This month we’d like to introduce you to the newest addition to the team at Inboard, Tim Miller. Tim fills the much needed Chief of Operations position, and will be overseeing our ramp to full scale production. Tim comes to us with over 22 years of experience in directing supply chain operations and was previously VP of Operations at Socket Mobile.
Up to this point we’ve thoroughly covered the ‘when’ of production, but what about the ‘how’? From now until March we’ll be ordering and receiving the final versions of the individual components for the M1. In March we’ll begin assembling these components in-house for the first 500 boards. We’re assembling in-house for two reasons: First, we want to have 100% control over the quality control process, so that we know every board shipped will meet our long-term expectations. Second, we want to be able to iterate quickly in the event we find a design detail that needs to be adjusted. This will minimize any delays in shipping and drastically reduce the possibility of defects.
Halfway though in-house pilot production, we will begin ramping full production with our USA-based contract manufacturer. We’ve chosen to work with an outside firm that specializes in manufacturing in order to meet the high volume of orders Inboard has received, all while maintaining a high level of quality control. This is an expensive alternative, but one that we know will allow Inboard to grow quickly while delivering the highest quality product possible.
Earlier this month, Inboard received a substantial investment from Central Coast Angels (CCA), an investment group formed with the objective of providing capital and mentorship to companies in the Monterey Bay region. The CCA is made up of members who are leaders in the technology and manufacturing industries. Each member has a wealth of industry connections and experience. Inboard will utilize this knowledge and network to facilitate growth and ensure the highest quality customer service and product reliability. This is a major stamp of approval from a leading investment fund, and will help fuel Inboard’s development and manufacturing operations beyond 2016.
1-Year Limited Warranty
To further exemplify our commitment to quality, every M1 will ship with a 1-year warranty against material and manufacturing defects. For Kickstarter and pre-order riders, this warranty will begin when you receive your board and will be easily accessed through the Vision Mobile App or at inboardskate.com.
If you have any questions, comments, thoughts, or concerns, as always please feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call toll-free at 844-8-INBOARD
Finally, to wrap up the year, we'd like to share a video mash-up we received from a passionate Inboard fan. While this is a year-end video of 2015, this is only the beginning, and we can’t wait to see amazing riding videos from all of you in 2016 and the years to come. Enjoy!
We can't wait to ride with you soon!
The Inboard Team