As we continue to populate and organize the site (it's kind of a 'rolling start' over here!), you may have noticed that our blog garden does not get tended very often. This is something we'd like to change, so here goes: the first monthly company update! If you're not yet on our e-mail list, please go jump on the mailchimp wagon right now by signing up to the newsletter on our homepage! We promise we don't spam; we barely send 1 e-mail a month! Thank you for your participation.
Sol Mobil is a small, yet exciting little drop in the bucket that is electric vehicle technology. We generally try to keep a low profile, and to focus on the repair, customization & design work at hand. So far, we've focused on quality, not quantity, with the emphasis on customer satisfaction - and after a year of this, it seems to be working! We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from our loyal handful of customers, and have (finally!) setup our Google My Business account, which has allowed us a greater interweb presence in the Triad area. We recently started offering repair services for the Organic Transit ELF, which is no longer manufactured, and quickly realized that we're the only company in the world that offers comprehensive maintenance for the ELF! This is but one great example of a recurring phenomena within Sol Mobil we can only describe as 'being in the right place at the right time.' Well if you take a look around, we couldn't ask to be in a better place or better time than right now! Below, we'd like to make a few announcements - things that would have never happened without the local-to-global community of which we're a part, and the good fortune that has been afforded to us over the last couple years:
Partnership With Dassault Systemes
Sol Mobil is exited to begin working with Dassault Systemes, the company behind Solidworks! They have provided Sol Mobil several licenses for Solidworks premium under what's known as the Solidworks for Entrepreneurs program. This will allow us to perform detailed FEA and aerodynamic simulations that were previously out of reach by our software tools. With Solidworks, we are able to ensure dimensional accuracy & theoretical performance benchmarks before beginning fabrication of our prototypes, which saves innumerable time and energy down the line. If you're interested, don't hesitate to send them an e-mail; they are looking for more companies like Sol Mobil to participate in the program.
Continued Partnership With Appalachian State University's Sustainable Technology Program
Sol Mobil has been working with the department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at App State since before we were founded. After finishing my own degree program through the department in 2016, and as a result of some of my e-bike experiences while a student there, I helped them add a course to the curriculum called Electric Bike & Lithium Battery Technology. The course also contains the Light Electric Vehicle Association's (LEVA) certification course for e-bike technicians, and is still the only university in the world to offer this certification. Since then, we've maintained a connection to the department; we like to visit every year or so and do a little presentation on the company. Last week, we went to visit the course, taught by Dr. Jack Martin, and invited two newly LEVA-certified students into our spring internship program. They "just can't wait to start using our CNC machine!" How convenient. It can be hard to find that kind of enthusiasm in this world - we're looking forward to working with both of them! Which brings us to the next shout out ...
The Professor at work! These students assembled this STEM cycle in under 5 minutes.
Cameron Van Dyke (L) and Brent Summerville (R), two of the department's biggest E-Bike nerds. More information about Cameron's interesting and unique experimental electric vehicles can be found here
Mixxer Makerspace Is A Place Where Ideas Become Reality
Mixxer, Winston-Salem's non-profit maker space, provides Sol Mobil with an unparalleled opportunity to develop our products in an environment that's both educated, yet 'independently minded.' There's a lot of co-working spaces, virtual offices, and that kind of thing popping up all over the place; but those places typically aren't stocked with 3D printers, laser cutters, a welding shop, wood shop, forge ... well you get the idea! Mixxer has a lot of tools and resources that are complementary to our own, and we find ourselves spending a lot of time there figuring out & mocking up important details of our projects. Mixxer is an ideal place, for instance, to welcome new interns ^, and give them a positive environment in which they can immediately start to make meaningful contributions to our company (as well as their resume). Mixxer is located less than a 1/2 mile from our main e-bike workshop; since it opened its doors almost 2 years ago, it has become one of our most valued resources, and I've heard the same from other local businesses.
NC Idea Micro Grant Finalist!
Sol Mobil recently submitted a proposal to the NC Idea Micro program, and were selected to move to the finalist round! 31 finalist teams out of an applicant pool of 156 will be presenting our vision for the future next week, and 10-15 of us will ultimately be awarded the $10,000 grant intended for business concept validation. We got our start researching e-bikes in 2016 by the good graces of a couple grant programs offered by Appalachian State University , so we're really exited at the potential shown by this program. This grant would enable us to move more quickly in the development of our solar powered electric bikes (aren't you following us on Insta?), and allow us to bring them to the market more quickly and at a higher volume than would otherwise be possible at this time. Sol Mobil has never taken any outside investment or business loan, and isn't looking for it either - this company was borne out of grant funding programs, and is proud of this independent heritage. The NC Idea Micro is quickly shaping into a formidable potential resource - if we can bag it! Stay tuned, we should hear the results by early December!
Sun Trip 2020 - If Everything Else On This Post Is Boring, Skip Down Here, It's Totally Worth It!
You saw it here, folks. Ryan Gillespie (hey, that's me!) from Sol Mobil is registered for the upcoming Sun Trip 2020 - an >8,000 mile solar e-bike race that stretches from France to China. So far we are the only American team registered. I've previously participated in the Sun Trip Tour 2017 and 2019, but based on what I heard about the previous edition (in 2018), this race will be like nothing I've ever experienced. From crossing Ukraine into Russia, to riding above 14,000ft on the Tibetan plateau, trying to get to know China while piloting a solar e-bike, and trying to win a race all at the same time, this challenge promises that each day will be exactly the same, yet radically different. We're currently building a one-off, very special e-bike that's designed specifically for this challenge - details coming soon. In the recent past, I learned how to fly to Europe with an E-Bike stowed away as checked luggage; this time, I plan to fly to Europe with an entire solar trike! Now you see why we needed Solidworks!
If you feel inwardly motivated to help fund this endeavor, please send us an e-mail for details. We have a history of self-funding our participation on the Sun Trip (don't get it confused - this includes a lot of help from a lot of family and friends!) but this time, we'll take all the help we can get. This is a big commitment in both time and money, and we already plan to cover more than 50% of the trip cost, so we wanted to open a door for the public to jump into this thing with us. Long story short, if you want support us on the road to China, we'll make sure everyone knows you did. You'll get your name permanently inscribed in our race vehicle, and be forever known as a Team Sol Mobil Sun Trip 2020 supporter. We plan to either live stream or record sections of the trip, and are hoping to have some call-ins from supporters during the race! We especially welcome any collaboration with other businesses who wish to align themselves with our vision of the future: a transportation infrastructure 100% freed from the oppression of fossil fuels, and open to safe and healthy human experiences & interaction for all people - not just automobile owners.
Thank you for wasting, er um, sharing your time with us, and please make sure to subscribe if you're interested in what we're doing.
Until next time,
- Ryan Gillespie