Remember the Sparrow? Here’s the Electra Meccanica Solo

electra_meccanica_solo

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?

-tgriffith

Find Certified Pre-Owned Cars and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

6 Comments

  1. Update: Good news! Electra Meccanica has rolled out their customer referral program.
    Even more reason to spread the word. For more information, join us at http://SoloOwners.net

  2. Nope. Didn’t think they’d publish my comments because those comments were a bit critical of the article and not of the Solo. That in itself shows a lot about what the intentions of the article were all about. In addition to what I said in my comments that were not allowed here, it takes a lot of courage to give your critics as well as those who agree with you equal time and space to discuss your article, wouldn’t you agree? There seems to be no freedom of expression allowed on this particular site. The truth will out as they say.

    • Apologies for the tone. When my previous comments disappeared and were not even showing in the “waiting to be moderated queue, I assumed that they had disappeared forever. My comment about courage still stands. The mods have shown the courage to publish those comments. That is admirable. Compliments guys and girls. Freedom of express does exist on Car Gurus.

    • Update: “We are nearing the end of our initial pre-production run of ten SOLOs, and have been sorting out the build procedures and, once complete, I am looking forward to making the first customer deliveries soon. If all goes to plan, we will begin delivering the first of our pre-orders locally, likely around the time of the Vancouver Auto Show which runs from March 28-April 2. Once we have a number of customer cars happily driving around the Vancouver area, we’ll start sending them further afield and out of the country. I’m happy to say that our US Compliance Certification continues to move along and we will announce the results in due time.” – CEO Jerry Kroll 02-08-17

  3. “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.” By all means, please invent one. Tomorrow if it’s not too much trouble. Easy to be an armchair QB. It’s proven to be tougher by far to one of the teams out there trying to produce greener solutions. That’s the thing that gets me the most. Everyone’s a critic when all they’ve seen, heard and/or experienced is some journalist’s opinion and a picture. Take a test drive when the time comes and then form an opinion with some validity. Those reading this, think for yourselves, not in line with the old school status quo. Easy to criticize something that’s essentially not even out of the box and experienced first hand. Real easy.

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