A new electric car that is built in British Columbia will be available this summer, says the company’s CEO.
The Electra Meccanica Solo is an an all electric, single passenger, three-wheeled commuter vehicle. It isn’t meant to replace your family car, says the company, but it will fill in for it on short trips where you are packing too much gear or have a whole bunch of groceries.
“It addresses the 83 per cent of people who commute by themselves 30 kilometres or less each way,” says CEO Jerry Kroll. “That means 14 million Canadians can do their commute in this car and still have extra range.”
The company notes that about 90% of travel is single passenger and wonders aloud why commuters should have to pay to transport a three-thousand pound vehicle for many of these trips. It says more than 100 people have put down a $250 deposit that gives them the right to buy a solo.
Kroll likens the evolution of the vehicle to the consumer shift in personal computing.
“The Electra Meccanica Solo is the Smartphone for the road,” he says. “It does what you need, it’s mission specific, it gets the job done neatly. Quite frankly, they sell a lot more smartphones than they do desktop computers.”
Three-wheeled vehicles are, of course, nothing new. They date back to the last years of the 19th century with the Léon Bollée Voiturettein France, and Switzerland’s “Egg” car, named for automotive engineer Rudolf Egg.
In Canada, Quebec-based Campagna Motors has marketed a cycle-car called the T-Rex since the mid-1990s. And since 2007, Bombardier has sold the Can-Am Spyder, a three-wheeled motorcycle. But in Canada, like much of the rest of the world, three-wheeled vehicles have never really caught on. South of the border, some new legislation is the latest volley in changing the fate of these trikes, which have historically been treated as oddities on the highways, turnpikes and freeways of a car-obsessed culture.
The Autocycle Safety Act, proposed by Louisiana senator David Vitter and introduced into congress in March of last year, would ensure that three-wheelers would have electronic stability control, a steering wheel air bag, curtain side impact air bags, and anti-lock brakes. Vitter says the law would “ensure that imported vehicles of similar types will be covered by the same safety standards that domestic manufacturers will follow.”
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Three-wheeled vehicles are street legal in many Canadian provinces such as Quebec, B.C and Manitoba, but have hit a roadblock in the lucrative Ontario market, where they are not. But that may soon change.
On March 1, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation launched a decade-long pilot project that will examine whether or not three-wheeler should be allowed on the province’s roads.