New Made-in-BC Electric Car Hits Road Next Month

Inside the bet that a BC-made, single-seat electric car is the next (really) big thing.

The 80% of commuters who drive to work/school by themselves without a passenger and who may want to save gas costs & pollution might begin paying attention to the Solo, the new made-in-BC electric car being released next month at Sept 9, 2016.

Electra Meccanica is claiming about $400 million to $4 billion for their first year of sales due to 20,000 to 200,000 orders for their new electric commuter car that is assembled in New Westminster and North Saanich on Vancouver Island.

The $20,000 Solo can be driven up to 160 km (100 miles) which is farther than most people’s full-day commute to work and back home. For example, commuting from White Rock near the US border to downtown Vancouver is 100 km round-trip.

Although Abbotsford to downtown Vancouver is 140 km for round-trip. Then the Solo can be fully recharged in just 3 or 6 hours depending on use of 110 volt or 220 volt electric outlets.

The Solo’s maximum speed is about 130 km/hr (previously estimated 120 km/hr) and can reach up to 100 km/hr from zero in just 8 seconds.

Video: Solo sets pace records at Mission Raceway Park in August.

Being close to release is resulting in much more provincial and international media coverage of a zero emission vehicle that Electra Meccanica claims is “The Smartest Commuter Car On The Planet.”

However at the first public test drive event in May and in online comments, there are questions about the design, the costs and the amount of interest in its home province.


Design: Why Only Seat For One Person?

Attendees at the May event accepted that 80% of commuters were driving by themselves even if they were driving SUVs or large sedans. A Solo can also drive in an HOV lane because it is electric or a single person in a 1-person car means it is full capacity.

3-wheel, 1-person, Zero-emission Solo Car

Most of the people I chatted at the May event agreed that a solo commuter car seemed appropriate for most commuters and also might give more flexibility for people currently relying on public transit. However, some did cite the inability of 1-person car to drop their kids off at school on their way to work or to take a coworker to a business meeting or event.

Design: How Much Storage?

The original design was not a hatchback, but they were proud to be open to improving the design so now they claim 250 litres of space for groceries or luggage.

COSTS: How Much Money Does It Really Save?

No gas fill-ups, low insurance costs and provincial discounts are said to make it attractive.

Some American online commentators questioned the $15,000 USD purchase cost as being comparable to larger vehicles such as used Nissan Leaf or Ford hybrid sedans.

However, Electra Meccanica CEO Jerry Kroll says that British Columbia’s provincial discount for electric vehicles up to $5,000 can drop a BC purchase of $19,888 down to $14,888.

The $250 deposit for a pre-order is also refundable. Link to Pre-order page:

They are also now promoting a Electric Vehicle Special Financing that can translate the purchase to $75 biweekly installments over a 10-year period.

priceA staffer at the May event also expressed that $75 would also possibly equal the cost of the electric charging for 18,000 km, which is nearly a year’s worth of mileage, and about the same cost comparable for a week or two of gas fill-ups for a SUV.

Video: CEO Jerry Kroll speaks about why costs & fossil fuel concerns help inspire public, corporations & international interest in $4 Billion sales for “first-ever Canadian produced electric vehicle.” Also taps & describes the design & features.

Design: Are 3 wheels good for handling?

Staff said that low design and low weight enable 3 wheels to manage steering very well whereas a 4-wheel structure would create more weight and complexity.

CEO Kroll points out in the video how the low weight and low center of gravity are good for handling and safety. His first public test drive in the May video also shows how it can speed up like other cars.

How Much BC Interest?

Although Electra Meccanica claims 20,000 orders already, the vast majority is commercial or exports and not for individual BC commuters. Canada Journal reported only about 100 individuals ordered as of June.

Although Solos are assembled in New Westminster and North Saanich on Vancouver Island, much of the components and purchase interests are from across the Pacific Ocean. They appear to also be using the Toronto Stock Exchange for their upcoming IPO.

CEO Kroll says that Japan already has ordered 10,500 exports. And that a global firm has a pending request for 88,000. His estimates of quickly ramping up to 200,000 orders may be due to the interests in the component providers in China & India aiming for 100,000 cars.

CEO Kroll makes the point that Solo is much more affordable than Tesla vehicles, but a US firm is planning on making a similar 3-wheel car next year as reported by AutoBlog article.

For when 2017 Solo is released in September 2016, hopes to share a Car Review similar to our other posts in our Automobiles Category section.

Solo features & specifications brochure
Solo features & specifications brochure

For more info & perspectives about Solo, access this List of Online Sources:

Welcome your questions or comments, please post in the section below.

David Plug
Ideas that could be innovative and enhance the quality of life, economy and health for Surrey residents and businesses are examined by David Plug. David is a former online & community journalist and healthcare communicator. Born on Vancouver Island, he has worked there, across Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and also at Prince George in northern BC. His interest in Surrey enhancing its cool and useful offerings for families are motivated by the experiences of him, his wife, three kids, two siblings and mother who have resided in Surrey for 13 years. As a graduate in History from University of Victoria, he also contributes stories about Surrey’s legacy which is somewhat informed by his appointment to the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission.