Car, motorbike, moon buggy or Mr. Bean’s newest commuter vehicle? However you see it, the SOLO is a new EV that’s launching in LA for people who like to roll solitary: a vehicle designed for just one driver and no passengers whatsoever.
In theory, it makes a lot of sense. A recent census in America indicated that about 90% of drivers drive on their own, so why bother having three or four extra seats that can’t do more than eat up space on the road? The SOLO, designed by ElectraMeccanica, is here to be just that, though its unconventional appearance (three wheels, one chair, and a chassis shaped like a shoe) might serve to put some people off. In fact, despite clearly, obviously being a car, the SOLO is considered to be a full-enclosed motorbike for the purposes of registration and insurance… Though you only need a regular license, not a motorcycle licence to drive it, so I guess the DMV is as bewildered by this thing as everybody else.
The SOLO’s stats and features are certainly interesting. It’s clearly designed for city use and short distances, with a top speed of 80 miles an hour and about 100 miles in each charge. It’s also tiny – about a quarter the size of an SUV – meaning you’ll likely see this thing beetling around between the fume-belching hummers that make up most of LA’s traffic.
And it will just be LA: so far ElectraMeccania are only selling this thing there as a solution to the city’s horrific traffic problem as well as a cheaper driving option for those who live alone. It’s certainly an interesting notion, though having been to LA, I would point out that the City of Angels does not drive like them. Get at all pushy in this little motorised bean of a car and you’re liable to have a two-ton SUV chase you through Santa Monica.
All the info about the SOLO points to it being more like a scooter than anything else, despite how it looks – and you know what? That’s fine. Cheaper, easier vehicles designed for individuals is a criminally under-served gap in the market, and if ElectraMeccania wants to leap in to fill it, that makes a lot of sense. A range of a hundred miles isn’t a lot, but it’s fine if you don’t usually go further than the outlet mall on the edge of town.
The SOLO is priced at $18,500, cheaper than pretty much any new electric car on the market (unless you’re buying second-hand), and it’ll be interesting to see if America takes to it, especially considering that the manufacturers are hoping to have the rest of the US buying within the next couple of years.