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Motorvation Engineering: Buyer Beware

In October 2018 I was calling around and researching sidecars.  I was deciding between a Spyder from Motorvation and something from DMC.  I chose to go with the Spyder from Motorvation.  That was an unfortunate decision.

I placed my order with Motorvation in early November 2018.  I was told the sidecar would be ready sometime in May or June next year.  As April approached I had received no updates from Motorvation and called to get the status of my order.  I was told that it's not ready and they have no estimate for when it will be ready.  Obviously I was a little confused since I was given an expected delivery date when I ordered so I asked them why they can't give an estimate now.  The reasons I was given were somewhat plausible, but seemed dodgy.  It seemed something must have happened and they were reluctant to tell me.  So I shared my background and explained delays are not new to me.

I work in R&D, and New Product Development.  I've been researching, designing, and bringing new products to market for over a decade.  I've been part of engineering projects ranging from a few thousand to several million dollars in total cost.  I've worked with many vendors and fabricators and I have never been told that there is no way to produce an estimate no matter how "custom" the project is.  If a project is a repeat of a previous project the timeline estimates are nearly spot on.  The vehicles Motorvation is building are not new products.  They are custom to a point, but the components are all previously designed and used parts which I ordered off a build options list.  Fabricators do give estimates for parts.   Paint shops give you a schedule and set appointments.  Builders work at a pretty consistent pace and assembly is a very predictable process.

However sometimes delays do happen.  A key employee may leave.  A supplier may close shop and you'll need to find a replacement.  There are many things that can cause delays... I know this because I've been working in product development for a long time.  When I told the owner of Motorvation this over the phone she admitted that it was definitely going to be delayed and said that I wasn't told because most people don't like to hear about delays.  My response to that was to inform the owner I am only upset now because I was not told about the delay and if you had told me it would not have been a problem.  I was given a new estimated completion time of September.  I asked to be notified if it went longer as I am a customer who has paid a large sum of money and expects communication if the order is delayed again.  The owner told me they would do their best, but that I should probably just call back when I want an update.

I started calling for an update in September.  It took a long time to get ahold of the owner again.  When someone would answer the phone they claimed to be an accountant and would give me no information about production times.  I left my number and asked for a call back.  I did not get a call back.  They really weren't very friendly to me.  I got a strong impression that my call and request for an update was a nuisance.  I called a few more times and got a "voicemail full" message.  At this point things were not looking good and I began wondering if I just threw away thousands of dollars getting swindled.

I asked my neighbor to call in and see if they could get a response.  He called and pretended to be interested in a sidecar.  The owner came on the line and he was told it would take 7-9 months and ran through a few options over the phone.  At no point did they tell him that they can't possibly give a delivery estimate.

I called again the next week and got someone willing talk to me about my sidecar order and production times.  They new the production schedule but told me that it's impossible for them to predict when it will be done.  I was told that the best I could do is call back for updates.

I waited another 6 weeks and called back again.  This time I got the owner.  The owner was far less cordial to me this time.  I asked for an update and was told where my order was in the queue.  I asked what this meant for delivery time.  I was told that there's no way to guess when it'll be done.  I threw out a number, a couple months... "probably at least" came the answer.  "Will it be done by spring?" ... "There's no way I could know that."  I began to respond by saying, "ok... so what should I...."  I didn't get to finish asking what I should expect going forward because I was hung up on.

At this point I have very little expectation of receiving the sidecar I ordered.  Motorvation Engineering is the least professional fabricator I have ever worked with... and they're not even a fabricator.  They're a manufacturer.  They make the same vehicles and have done so for decades with only modest changes in trim, color, and bolt on accessories.  There is no excuse for treating customers the way I've been treated.  They are indisputably dishonest as proven by the fact they are still giving out delivery estimates to get money from new customers, but tell customers who already paid that a delivery estimate is impossible. They have no qualms about exceeding their made-up-for-sales delivery dates by many months without any notification to the customer.  Their manner on the phone is unacceptable.  They only thing they've fabricated in my experience with them is lies and a bad reputation.

I should have ordered from DMC.   Then maybe I'd have had my sidecar this year.  Right now I may not have it in time to take my kids out with me next year either.  I'm very disappointed.  Please take this as a cautionary and if you do decide to order from Motorvation do so with your eyes wide open.