EV startup ElectraMeccanica plans to deliver its first tiny, one-seat EV before the end of 2021.
The one-seat EV is called the "Solo," and ElectraMeccanica's targeting personal and commercial use.
Early Solos will be made in China, but localized models will eventually be built in Mesa, Arizona.
Today, electric cars are all the talk. Whether it's the Tesla Model 3 sedan or the Mustang Mach-E crossover, EVs have taken the market by storm. But nearly all of the popular electric cars have one shared trait: They're passenger cars. Canadian EV startup ElectraMeccanica wants to change that.
In 2015, investor and motorsport enthusiast Jerry Kroll cofounded and formerly led ElectraMeccanica with a goal of challenging the concept of urban transportation. Instead of building a traditional commuter car, Kroll aimed for something far less conventional.
Kroll's idea to rethink the automobile was to develop an affordable electric city car with just one seat, and ElectraMeccanica's current CEO, Paul Rivera, emphasized that ElectraMeccanica's creation would blend the space between micromobility and traditional transportation.
"In micromobility, you've got everything from the little electric scooters and you've got little electric bikes," Rivera said. "Then on the other side, you've got passenger cars. And even in the electric-vehicle space, you still have three or four empty seats."
The idea makes sense: If we as a society are going all-in on electric power, we might as well decrease our physical footprint - and thus how much energy it takes to power the vehicles - as well.
After the brand settled on a one-seater design, ElectraMeccanica decided to unironically name its creation the "Solo." In 2020, the brand announced it would begin Solo production with its partner, Chinese manufacturing firm Zongshen.
Despite having three wheels and just one seat, Rivera said safety and comfort were the highest priorities in the build.
"We went through great lengths to put a lot of safety in that vehicle, even though it's a three-wheeled vehicle and it gets classified as a motorcycle," Rivera said. "It still has front and rear crumple zones, it has side impact protection, it has a roll bar inside, it has torque-limiting stability control.
"On the inside of the vehicle, it has all of the accouterments and comfort features that you're used to in a passenger car: It has a heated seat, it has air conditioning, it has heat, it has Bluetooth."
With its compact form and low price of just $18,500, Rivera foresees the Solo integrating itself in a variety of capacities, eventually building up its own ecosystem. To create the ecosystem, ElectraMeccanica aimed at two large markets: personal and fleet.
On the personal side, the benefits of an affordable electric car are most apparent.
"It can be used in the retail space and it's for people who understand and want an electric vehicle but haven't been able to acquire one because of a price point that was unattainable before," Rivera told Insider.
As for the fleet side, implementations in anything from last-mile delivery to car-sharing are possible.
"If you could share that vehicle either in college campuses or in high-rise residential complexes - and walk up and unlock it with your iPhone or your Android device, and be able to take it out for two hours or four hours and take it and bring it back - it's the perfect vehicle," Rivera said.
To keep the purchase price low, ElectraMeccanica opted for a direct-to-consumer model. This move is similar to that of Tesla and it cuts out the need for a traditional dealership structure.
At $18,500, the Solo undercuts every other U.S. sold mass market EV, and while it can't qualify for the federal tax credit, it can for state ones. For example, qualifying Oregon residents can obtain two separate $2,500 rebates for purchasing a Solo, bringing the price down to $13,500.
As for future vehicles, ElectraMeccanica plans on eventually launching a reasonably affordable, classic-inspired electric convertible dubbed the "Tofino." While there's no release date yet, Rivera said ElectraMeccanica's focus is getting the Solo out to customers at its Oct. 4 launch event.
"I'm a car guy and we've got aspirations to do other things, but just to be very clear: For us, I believe that we need to deliver first on the plan," Rivera told Insider. "The plan is to put the Solo on the road first and build credibility."
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