From the beginning, the founders of RechargeCar Inc. have kept certain things in mind as we developed products and grew our business. Below you will find a few things we want to maintain as we continue.
"Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes."
Question: How difficult would it be to design and build an electric car completely by yourself without any reference material or help from others?
Answer: Very. It would take a very long time, it would be very expensive, and maybe even very dangerous.
Thankfully, there are many ways to gain the knowledge needed to build an electric car by sharing in other people's experience: online forums, build blogs, books, magazines, newsletters, email mailing lists, and, if you're as lucky as us, monthly meet-ups.
We want to encourage this collaborative and community-oriented approach and extend it to EV system development. We are taking things to a different level by proposing the following:
the 'OpenAPI EV Management Initiative.'
"Open" in this case describes how accessible the information pertaining to the communication standards are. We share the packet structure of our AutoBlocks for example. Openness generally refers to the degree to which information is shared.
API stands for: "Application Programming Interface" and traditionally refers to software interaction. In our situation, we extend this notion to EV software AND hardware. The communication and software interaction is open, well-published and freely available (thus OpenAPI), while the internal workings of specific pieces of hardware remain abstracted.
Sharing of knowledge.
We are mainly a hardware company. We feel that our strengths are found in the actual hardware. However, in some cases, our hardware depends heavily on software. We're doing what we can to provide an intuitive and useful software environment to get the most out of our hardware. Obviously, we can't foresee every possible use, and currently cannot support all of the major computing platforms.
We want to encourage creative and fluid uses of our hardware, and that's why we provide full documentation on the serial packet structure that our hardware uses. If our software isn't doing what you need of it, feel free to let us know. We'll likely try to include that in our next release. In the meantime, we're making sure you know the language the hardware is speaking so you can listen in your own way.
For us, quality means longevity. We design our products to last for years, not months. We want our products to last longer than your car. We want you to give our widgets to your children.
We had a choice: design a product that might last just a little while and sell another to the same customer to replace the broken original (if the customer would even remain a customer), OR sell one to another customer as a result of the first customer's recommendation. We chose the latter.
Our products are designed with the DIY hobbyist in mind. While our group comes with a wide range of backgrounds, one common thread that brought us together was that DIY mindset. We want to make our stuff easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to install - we are compassionate engineers.
One example of this is the laser-etched labels on our AutoBlocks describing how to hook them up. Our ultimate goal, when it comes to installation, is to never have to pick up the manual. Look at the widget, plug it in, turn it on, have fun.
We want to design a product once. We don't plan on releasing another, slightly different product a year later that is not compatible with last year's products. Sound familiar? It's common enough to warrant a term: “planned obsolescence.” We don't design without looking toward the future. Along with our commitment to build quality and durability, we intend that the devices and widgets we build now will be completely compatible with things we release for years to come, and we make explicit design choices to ensure that.
While there may be upgrades to existing products, those upgrades won't break compatibility with the original product; it will continue to work as designed, and updated systems will continue to support it.
Our products make building an EV easier and encourage more EVs to be built. We all know that using EVs is better for the environment than burning gas, but building new products always has an environmental impact.
We do our best to use recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable materials in our products. You may have noticed that our packaging is pretty simple, does not include a ton of throw-away junk, no so-sharp-it-will-cut-you plastic, no useless, confusing literature - none of that.
Our eventual system will be as modular as possible. We want you, the customer, to decide what features and functions you want for your car. You mix and match our widgets to create the system you have in mind.
Made in America
RechargeCar Inc. is based in the United States and manufactures throughout the United States. While we do our best to source our components and subassemblies from the United States, sometimes certain parts, namely electronic components, are simply not available from anywhere but overseas. Most times, however, we have a choice: buy components from far away built under conditions that result in a sightly lower price, or buy from people closer to us (sometimes in the same town) and pay a little more. Once again, we chose the latter.