Automotive startup Electra Meccanica’s first electric car is known as the “Solo” as a result of there’s solely room onboard for one particular person within the single, central driver’s seat, and that’s solely the primary bizarre factor about it.
The Solo is an ultra-compact electric commuter car that marries an inverted-trike configuration — two wheels up entrance and one on the rear — with an enclosed passenger cabin. It steers and controls with a common car steering wheel. It additionally has pedals and feels a lot like a regular, albeit wee, vehicle.
The slender rear finish is the place the electric motor places 82 horsepower and 94 pound-feet of torque to the highway by way of a single wheel. That would not sound like a lot of grunt, however take into account that the Solo weighs simply 1,380 kilos (about 1,000 lower than a 2016 Mazda Miata) and that its electric torque supply is instantaneous and responsive. Acceleration is not at all disagreeable or underpowered.
Juice comes from a 16.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the Solo’s ground the place it additionally provides a little bit of stability to this light-weight and intensely slender chassis by conserving the middle of mass good and low to the bottom. Charging from flat to full takes about three hours at a stage 2 station and grants the Solo a nominal cruising vary of about 100 miles.
On the highway (quite, across the moist parking zone the place I used to be in a position to take a look at the EV for a few hours), the Solo is not the whisper-quiet experience that I anticipated it to be. There’s a lot of mechanical whine from the electric motor and its single-speed discount gear, in addition to a whole lot of highway noise developing from beneath the poorly insulated, light-weight composite cabin. Were there really room for a second soul aboard, you’d must shout to speak to them.
The Solo additionally lacks energy steering, which supplies the dealing with a very direct really feel when transferring, but additionally requires a little bit of muscle to show when parking or reversing. Also, this not-quite-a-car configuration implies that the Solo will get by with out an airbag — an omission that might give me pause contemplating this half-a-car has to share the highway with crossovers and SUVs.
So, this is bare-bones transportation — mainly simply a seat, an e-motor and a steering wheel — however the Solo is not with out creature comforts. There’s a complete of 10 cubic ft of storage between its entrance and rear trunks and commonplace options embody Bluetooth connectivity by way of a single-DIN car stereo, a reversing digital camera that shares a show with the digital instrument cluster in addition to a heated seat. You’ll must pay further, nonetheless, for air con.
The Solo has a prime pace of 137 mph, however the manufacturing mannequin might be restricted to only 82 mph. After a few hours behind the wheel, “just 82 mph” sounds to me like a terrifying prospect.
In equity, Electra Meccanica’s little EV is not designed for the freeway. It’s a metropolis car for the overwhelming majority of journeys beneath 25 miles that almost all drivers make yearly. The Solo is designed to be precisely as a lot car as one particular person must seize a few luggage of groceries or for a brief commute. The compact measurement makes it simply parkable on dense city streets and the electric drivetrain means it is fairly inexperienced.
At round $15,500, it additionally prices about half as a lot as most new electric automobiles and Electra Meccanica hopes that EV lovers will snap the Solo up as a second or third car. Then once more, a licensedsolely runs about $13,000 as of late, presents extra consolation in addition to utility and is not that a lot more durable to park, making the quirky Solo a robust promote even for frugal motorists.
Those nonetheless can preorder the Electra Meccanica Solowith a $250 refundable deposit with supply anticipated by early 2018.