Entrepreneurs, Dreams, and Promises: Spark EV

Let's say that you are the enterprising sort. Let's also say that you are passionate about electric vehicle technology. You recently learned about a Chinese company that is producing what appear to be some very cool electric vehicles. Given that major OEMs in the US are not producing electric cars, and given that there appears to be a fair amount of consumer demand, you decide to take a chance. You see an opportunity and you take it. You build a company around this product and you start taking orders. There's one small problem, however. The company is not ready to ship the cars. Or there's a technological glitch. Or they're waiting for a new version of the battery. Whatever it is, your dealers are getting impatient and calling you a fraud.

I'm not sure if this was the exact situation for Michael Papp, owner of the now defunct Spark EV. Papp was recently charged and arrested for failing to deliver 14 electric cars to Electric Transportation of Arkansas and Electric Cars of Houston. Today, Papp was ordered by a Pennsylvania Court to pay $100,000 to these companies to avoid criminal charges. His lawyer says that he will pay the amount.

While I am not absolving Papp, I wish to bring attention to the day-to-day reality that characterizes many e.v. start-ups. As several electric vehicle entrepreneurs have realized, starting a car company in a field dominated by multi-billion dollar corporations is not easy. What compounds the problem further is that electric vehicle entrepreneurs are in the business of "disruptive technology." Producing and selling cars based on a new technological platform requires a lot more time, money, skill, and luck than most entrepreneurs realize when they begin their dream. Perhaps it is this lack of foresight, coupled with an overwhelming desire to get this technology on the road, that causes many companies to over-promise and under-deliver.

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