The promise of an electric car that can travel a hundred miles, be recharged in three hours (on a 220-volt system), and costs just $15,500 is a tempting proposition for some folks.
Make the car a 3-wheeled single seater and the proposition gets a little more convoluted.
Are Americans ready for another 3-wheeled single-occupancy commuter car? A company called Electra Meccanica thinks so, and plans to make its 2017 Solo available in the United States.
But there are some problems.
There’s no question that we live in a country with some serious transportation challenges. We have too many cars on our highways, too much much pollution coming from those cars, and an aged infrastructure to handle it all.
Electra Meccanica isn’t saying it can solve those problems with the Solo, but shouldn’t a new car company give us something new rather than something that has already flopped?
Think of the old Corbin Sparrow, an idea on which the Solo is based. That 3-wheeler had a similar proposition and managed to sell a few cars for roughly $16,000 each. The problem, of course, was that the cost to make each one far exceeded the sales price. It didn’t take long for the automaker to go bankrupt.
The Solo sounds decent on paper and the company is taking pre-orders now. There are some real-world limitations, though, that might keep some buyers away.
What about safety? Three wheels are inherently less stable than four and the Solo may have trouble in some emergency maneuvers and be far more vulnerable in an accident involving the rear end.
What about practicality? A single seat will make it impossible for a parent to pick up a sick kid from school or give a coworker a lift home. There’s no dropping kids off at daycare in the morning, either.
And then there’s the price. The company promises a $15,500 price tag for the Solo, but the Sparrow taught us that the reality of manufacturing costs (not to mention crash testing) can severely affect the bottom line.
The Solo, if it indeed comes to market as promised, will become just another car stuck in traffic. What we need is an inexpensive electric commuter car that can lane-spilt, hold two people, and have the stability and safety of a typical sedan.
The Solo is a novelty, but it isn’t revolutionary, and we live in a time when the world desperately needs a transportation revolution.
Would you be interested in the 3-wheeled Solo?