Depending on how you look at it, we’re in the middle or (more likely, I think) at the beginning of a big transition in personal transportation. Electric vehicles are no longer just a noble idea, they’ve greased the death grip that combustion engines had on the industry to the point that even the biggest, oldest car companies have committed to adding one or more EVs to their fleet in the next decade. Uber and Lyft and all of their smaller ride-hailing-or-sharing competitors are creeping in from the coasts, taking over one small town at a time.
As these Big Ideas start to fill our heads, it’s making us ask a lot of questions about what we want our next cars to look like, or what our kids' cars should look like, or what their kids' cars should look like. This is a(n admittedly) long way for me to get to the question I posed to you in the headline: Would you buy this tiny three-wheeled car? I’m genuinely interested in the answer!
It’s made by a company called Electra Meccanica, and it’s an idea the company has been pushing for a while now. Today, though, the company unveiled the first photos of the production version, which is being sold for $19,888 in Canada (about $15,500 US). You can preorder it on the company’s website for $250, and it ships next year. The company said earlier this summer that it had already taken more than 20,000 of those preorders, which to be clear, are refundable. Here are some more photos of the tiny little EV:
It’s an electric vehicle, but it only seats one. It has 82 horsepower and a fairly decent range of 100 miles, and it can go 0–60mph in eight seconds, but it will take three hours to charge on a Level 2 charger. (That last part — or the idea of getting into an accident in this thing — are probably the most likely deal breakers.) It has 15-inch wheels and is almost two feet (!) shorter than a Fiat 500. Electra Meccanica boasts that the Solo has 285 liters (10 cubic feet) of cargo space, or "approximately as much as a Mercedes Benz C3002 Coupe." For a car this small, that’s something!
But would you buy it?
I probably I sound like I’m being facetious, but I'm generally curious about who would be interested in a vehicle like this. I’ve ridden and driven a few offbeat things for The Verge, and it's clear that many of these companies (or their ideas) are so new that it's legitimately hard to pin down who their customers could be. There was the Arcimoto SRK, which is like a bigger, open-air version of the Solo. It was a lot of fun to drive, even if the first attempt at driving it left me nearly stranded on the side of a Las Vegas freeway. Then there was the Nissan Mobility Concept, an adorable little car that was much more limited in how much fun it offered. It's probably too limited to be a practical thing to own — instead, it makes more sense as a point-to-point rental, which is how it’s been deployed in San Francisco. Then there was the Mahindra GenZe 2.0, which I actually think about on a monthly and sometimes even weekly basis. It was a lot of fun to drive and would make more sense for me to own in NYC than all of these other vehicles.
I sure as hell want to drive the Solo. But I don’t know that I’d ever want to buy the Solo. If I’m going to shell out more than $10,000 for a weird three-wheeled EV, I’d probably go with Arcimoto’s version.
So what about you?