I often caution cleantech entrepreneurs to make sure they confine their business concepts to arenas in which much larger and moneyed competitors will not enter and immediately squash them. An example I often give (or gave) was electric transportation. If you offer a freeway-speed electric sedan, you’re competing with Nissan and the rest. However, it’s unlikely that these massive OEMs are going to want to enter the e-bike market.
Oops. Got that wrong.
Here’s an announcement to the effect that Ford has teamed up with a Southern California-based start-up to offer a full line of Ford-branded electric-assisted bicycles. The author of the press release, obviously no fool, didn’t miss the opportunity to bathe the event in a shimmering green light and make everyone look good; the CEO of the local company, DAHON, is quoted as saying “This is a very exciting opportunity for us. By partnering with such an environmentally conscious company as Ford, we are taking the next steps in highlighting the need to reduce carbon emissions and influencing today’s auto-dependent public to think about the importance of changing their transport habits to help sustain a greener future.”
But is this all bad for smaller players who may wish to compete here? Not really. As my colleague Michael Scholey, CEO of super-cool “Emcycle” points out, at the very least, it shows that a company of the stature of Ford thinks this is a legitimate space, adding a great deal of credibility to the entire industry. So true. Best wishes to all involved.