I’ve been following Arcimoto since it came to the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2012. This unique startup brought a very useable three-wheel electric vehicle (EV) that tilted, which was tons of fun. Arcimoto then came back diligently every year with improvements.
Today, the company celebrated a decade in the making with the end of production of its Signature Series Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV), which is also the company’s stock ticker symbol. Arcimoto invited us to its first public shareholder meeting, where I finally understood why this unique setup chose Eugene to change the world of mobility.
2008 Unleashes Electric Transportation Adventure, Arcimoto Ponders Mobility
Many car startups launched before, during, and after the harsh insanity of 2008, but only a handful of startups have survived. Out of the few that did, Arcimoto is one of those startups that steadily improved its electric three-wheel mobility solution to become what might be the world’s most efficient startup. With a highly efficient production chain and its own machines for tooling, it can reassess fairly quickly and adapt to almost all local production needs. The best part of this aspect of the company is that it can scale up far easier than it can scale down.
Eugene is not readily associated with EVs, so there’s been a lingering question of “Why Eugene, Oregon?” from day one. I expected the answer to be that they were moving to San Jose, Detroit, or another EV hotbed soon. No, it’s Eugene now and Eugene in the future, and after spending two days with Arcimoto there, I get it. The indescribable Eugene, Oregon, is a part of the company.
Adding to the already positive experience, Arcimoto graciously housed me in a tiny house where I was able to immerse myself even more in this unique and amazing atmosphere that permeates the city. I’d move here, but I dread adding more Californian escapee statistics to that state.
Eugene Is A Practical Place To Start
At the heart of the project is the always enthusiastic and driving force behind Arcimoto, Chairman, President, & Founder Mark Frohnmayer. Both he and Terry Becker, COO, explained it well in The Portland Business Journal. In fact, Terry summed it up brilliantly over that weekend, going beyond trite employee congratulations — Arcimoto’s success lies in the team, the culture, and the community, which acts as a true incubator.
Did you know that 80% of startups make it in Oregon?
Brand Director John Friess offers a potential reason for the magic there. He noted it might be due to when settlers were given a choice of mining gold in California for cash or acres of land in Oregon with the promise of building a sustainable community. Guess which one has a more inclusive DNA?
Why Arcimoto Is Still Going & Other Startups Aren’t
As to why Arcimoto makes it through a decade of patient design revisions, a smart hybrid IPO, and the launch of its signature series is explainable. Since day one, the culture around efficiency was set in stone, but not just rolling efficiency — the company has had a focus on manufacturing efficiency, adaptation, efficient use of resources and finances, and efficient hiring of employees. It has seemingly been a perfect 101 course of what to do to efficiently run an EV startup. No wonders it rubs bigger OEMs the wrong way. After all, we’ve seen what Apple and Tesla have done in their respective industries.
Why favor the overly complex over the simple, efficient solutions? That appears to be Arcimoto’s core logic.
Arcimoto’s longer term plan is not to make its vehicles in one or two global factories, but to focus on local, more efficient, smaller ones. Starting with its Signature Series, after $20,000,000 and one year, the last of these first vehicles is out the door (one going as far north as Olympia, Washington).
That’s an eagle’s eye view of my takeaway from some time at the fun factory. But stay tuned, there is more to come…
Related: The Arcimoto SRK — From Design & Iterative Development To Production (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
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