Automotive newcomer Inter Meccanica has moved into the electric vehicle space with its new Electra Meccanica brand, and it is coming to Southern California to show off its new baby in just a few weeks.
The SOLO Is Coming To Santa Monica
Electra Meccanica announced that it would be debuting its single-passenger electric vehicle, dubbed the SOLO, at the Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica, California, on October 12–13, 2018. The SOLO is a bid by the manufacturer to bring the driver-centric automotive experience to the world of electric vehicles in a unique form factor. The Solo is a fully enclosed three-wheeled vehicle with two wheels up front that taper down to a single rear wheel.
“We’re very excited that the SOLO will be featured as the AltCar Expo’s showcase EV introduction this year, following a tradition of EV debuts that have included the Chevy Volt, the Nissan Leaf and many more,” stated Electra Meccanica CEO Jerry Kroll.
“The SOLO is a beautiful, easy-to-drive vehicle that’ll make commuting to work or short trips a fun, enjoyable experience. Electra Meccanica is committed to providing an affordable vehicle that is utilitarian and meets the demands of the California commuter. We’re very excited to be featured at this year’s Expo and are confident attendees will see something that’s a unique departure from traditional automotive engineering.”
We spoke with Electra Meccanica CEO Jerry Kroll about the launch of the SOLO and he shared that the new focus on electric vehicles is very much a natural extension of the legacy of Intermeccanica, noting that, “it’s not just the driver’s car, it’s the driver’s car company.” As such, don’t expect the SOLO to be a slimmed down street-legal golf cart, but rather, it is being framed as an optimized single-passenger electric vehicle.
Multiple Market Segments
Jerry shared that Electra Meccanica sees three primary customer segments emerging for the SOLO as it moves from production into a wave of deliveries. First, 83% of trips is already people hitting the road by themselves, so the move to a SOLO could be a good fit. That’s clearly not saying that all of those people have a desire to buy a single-seat vehicle, but it does highlight a nice juicy market segment that could cut over to using a single-passenger vehicle like the SOLO.
Second, Jerry shared that carsharing is a key focus for the company as they work to ramp up SOLO production over the next few quarters. The SOLO could make a great carsharing vehicle due to its small parking footprint and lower price — that together make the SOLO a simple solution for carsharing networks looking for a more economical, city-friendly electric vehicle for their customers.
Finally, and this is an obvious one after you think about it, the SOLO is just about the perfect delivery vehicle. Jerry shared that he envisions it being utilized by companies like Amazon, Alibaba, DHL, FedEx, and hundreds of food delivery services.
I can already imagine a Domino’s-branded SOLO zooming around my neighborhood (silently, of course) and delivering pizzas from a retrofitted hot box hanging off the back. Delivery vehicles typically travel a very consistent number of miles each week and they do so at very low average speeds, making them juicy targets for the small electric vehicle.
If You Build Them …
On the production side of things, Jerry shared that the company has plans to ramp production up to around 75,000 vehicles per year over the next 3 years. As the company builds more vehicles, it will introduce more complexity to the model, including more options. “We are planning to add more features moving forward,” he related.
That includes exciting additions like inductive charging and autonomous level 4 or 5 capabilities that would instantly transform the SOLO into an ideal robotaxi for some purposes.
Dealerships Coming To Southern California And The Pacific Northwest
Electra Meccanica is planning to open the first US dealership later this year in Los Angeles, with the SOLO priced at $15,888. At that price, it comes with a 17.3 kWh battery that provides for 100 miles per charge, which can be recouped after 3 hours on a 220 volt charger or 6 hours on a 110 volt charger.
While the SOLO isn’t a high performance car, its 82 horsepower rear-wheel-drive motor can still propel the car from 0–60 mph | 0–100 km/h in around 8 seconds. Remember, at just 675 kg / 1,488 lb, the SOLO is much smaller than a typical automobile and only has to haul around one person.
Jerry shared that they have thousands of people waiting to receive cars in the fourth quarter of 2018, which is the culmination of months of focused effort as the company shifts from its production focus into high gear for delivery. They have $2.4 billion in reservations for not just the SOLO, with 20,000 reservations, but also for the follow-up to the SOLO, another 40,000 reservations.
With test drives of the SOLO already popping up out in the wild, the reviews are decidedly mixed, though everyone seemed to agree that any qualms they had with the car regarding ease of entry/exit, visibility, and ride comfort could seemingly be resolved without too much difficulty. As such, I’m excited to spend some time in the SOLO at or around the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo this month.
An Electric Roadster With Italian Roots
The second car has been dubbed the Tofino, and is the electrified version of everything Intermeccanica built its name on. The prospect of a 2 seat roadster for those who love to drive by a company known for building driver-centric cars, but with an electrified drivetrain, has enthusiasts drooling all over themselves.
Queueing up 40,000 reservations for a $50,000 car is impressive by itself, but it is all the more impressive when you consider that it’s a car that virtually nobody has seen and that it isn’t even due to be delivered until 2020.
To learn more about the SOLO, head over to Electra Meccanica’s website or stop by the Santa Monica Alt Car Expo. The Alt Car Expo is free to attend and will take place at the Santa Monica Civic Center on October 12–13 at 1855 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA, 90401. For additional information, visit www.altcarexpo.com or call 310-390-2930.
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