You’ve probably seen them, especially if you live in a big city. Three-wheeled vehicles that straddle the line between car and motorcycle that often travel in packs, driven mostly by men in their 30s and 40s.
Adult toys of the non-sexual variety.
Can-Am Spyders. Morgan 3 Wheelers. And Polaris Slingshots. I was loaned one of the latter last year.
One man’s vision of untouchable beauty is another man’s 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500, or something like that. Each one of us filters a fellow human’s or vehicle’s looks through a network of individual biases and neuroses to arrive at a verdict.
Dishy. Stunner. Sort-of cute. Dog. We’re a shallow species, and only a select few of us can see the beauty in everything.
If symmetry is indeed a key aspect of perceived beauty, then it explains the particular revulsion I feel with a certain class of vehicle, one which numerous upstart automakers seem intent on returning to our streets. If buyers are willing, of course.
A small automobile company headquartered in a city with outrageous house prices wants you to buy shares. Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corp., the Vancouver-based builder of three-wheeled electric vehicles, has announced its listing on the NASDAQ.
The company’s $10 million public offering went live Thursday, listed as SOLO (common shares) and SOLOW (warrants). As you probably figured, Electra Meccanica calls its vehicle the “Solo,” which, as you also probably figured, carries a single occupant.
Looking like all three-wheelers do (strange), the Solo targets the cost-conscious commuter.
Remember Elio Motors? If you’ve ever expressed any public interest in its economical three-wheeler, the company’s aggressive social media campaign has ensured Elio is a household name in your life. You may also recall the company pushing back the vehicle’s release date every single year since 2014. With a revised launch of 2018, surely Elio Motors is on track to deliver the affordable and eco-friendly little trike this time — right?
Don’t bet on it.
After an assessment showing the company had $123 million in debt with only $101,000 in the bank as of September 2016, the future is now even more dire. Elio Motors’ U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing shows the company needs $376 million — $64 million more than the original previous $312 million estimate — to begin production, reports Jalopnik.
Worse still, it only has 76 weeks to find the money if it has any hope of maintaining its self-imposed deadline.
Buy an Electra Meccanica SOLO and never argue with a passenger again.
The Vancouver-based company’s single-seat, three-wheeled electric commuter vehicle went on sale in Canada today, promising a range of about 100 miles and plenty of double takes from other motorists.
Elio Motors Says It Will Sell 100 Pre-Production Prototypes to Fleets, Delays "Consumer" Production Till 2017
In a move that has already generated criticism from disappointed deposit holders, Elio Motors announced that production of its enclosed tandem three-wheelers will be delayed, yet again, to an undisclosed date sometime in 2017.
In a statement issued on Friday, Elio Motors said, “the bulk of the consumer launch will have to be moved into 2017 at a date to be determined, as the company continues to seek additional funding.”
Ironically, that delay was made public as the company appeared to make progress towards getting at least some vehicles built in Shreveport later this year. Founded in 2009, Elio had previously announced production dates of 2014 and more recently the end of 2016.
My late father told me that few people are as passionate as converts who’ve become disaffected. Some of the most vocal critics of the Elio Motors startup are former supporters, people who put down money on reservations, only to be disappointed by repeated delays in starting production.
Paul Elio most recently said production is slated to begin sometime late this year — that is if they can get the money to do it.
However, those disaffected folks were abuzz this week over a post at Green Car Congress that said a proposed rule change by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would classify three-wheeled vehicles as automobiles. That would require Elio Motors’ three-wheeler to comply with all the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards of four-wheeled cars.
Since we last looked at Elio Motors, the startup that plans on selling an 84 mpg, $6,800 tandem reverse trike to people looking to replace 15 year old beaters, there have been a number of developments involving the company. To begin with, the start of production has been pushed back until the beginning of 2015. Though Elio had originally announced that production would start in Q4 of this year, there were delays in finalizing the real estate deal for the former General Motors assembly plant in Shreveport, Louisiana where Elio plans to build their vehicles, including assembling their own engines (whose preliminary specifications have been announced). There have also be some changes to the car’s design as it gets closer to production, with a fourth prototype being introduced. Finally, Elio has announced how they will market and service the vehicle. Like Tesla, they will be setting up factory owned stores to sell directly to customers. Those stores, though, won’t be providing service.
Elio Motors – It Just Might Be For Real, So to Check It Out, TTAC Rolls Consumer Reports Style and Puts Skin in the Game
Elio Motors is one of those automotive startups that raises all sorts of flags that makes some people think that it’s a scam, or at least on shaky financial ground. Almost every bit of news from Elio has been greeted with some skepticism, understandably ( here, here, and here). They’re planning on selling a three wheel vehicle with a composite body that gets amazing gas mileage. Those facts alone remind people of the Dale scam, and the failed Aptera venture. Also, they’re taking deposits on a vehicle whose design has not been finalized, a year away from production, and that evokes memories of Preston Tucker, who had his own problems. Then there’s the financing plan that Elio says will allow people currently driving beaters, the working poor if you will, to get a new car with a warranty just for what they’re currently paying for gasoline. When you buy the $6,800 tandem two seater reverse trike, whatever balance there is after your trade-in and/or deposit is applied will go on a credit card. Monthly payments will be required to pay down the balance but the way Elio is pitching it, when you use that credit card to buy gasoline (and some other purchases) instead of being billed for the actual cost of the gas, you’ll be billed 3 times that amount and the difference between the actual price and the billed price will be used to pay off the car.
Why 3X the price of gas?
I’ve been fascinated by reverse trikes for a long time. As young teens, my older brother and I made a reverse trike go-kart (he designed the frame and the drivetrain, I did the brakes and steering) because we didn’t have the money for a proper live axle setup in the back. The first hard turn taught us something about the inherent instability of three wheel vehicles. The inside front wheel lifted about 18″ off of the pavement (maybe that’s why I like the photo of Jim Clark’s Lotus Cortina cornering on three wheels so much). It took a bit more than a “dab of oppo” to settle it back down. I don’t remember if either one of us ever completely rolled it, but it was exciting to drive. Now comes word that Morgan’s revived 3 Wheeler, a car that seems to be able to drift and donut effortlessly while still keeping both front wheels planted firmly on terra firma, has become their best selling vehicle, prompting word of expanding the 3 Wheeler line. With that success my attention has once again been drawn to reverse trikes. I’m not the only one. Based on design patent drawings, it looks like Polaris will be soon introducing the Slingshot, a side by side reverse trike powered by a GM Ecotec 2.4 L four cylinder. From the styling the Slingshot looks to be aimed more at Ariel Atom fans than the traditional stringback driving glove set, so I don’t think the Morgan will lose any sales to Polaris, but either way, I think the Polaris will increase the popularity of three wheelers in general.
The perennially shy Alex Roy took delivery of his Morgan Trike last year and has dutifully operated it under all conditions, including during the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. There’s something awfully charming about the “Three Wheeler”, even if the price of it would also put you in a brand-new six-speed Corvette Grand Sport. As far as not-quite-motorcycles go, I much prefer it to the Can-Am Spyder, anyway.
Much of the appeal of the Morgan is its novelty value; we didn’t get very many Morgans of any type in this country, much less three-wheeled ones. The T-Rex is probably the only other non-bike-based trike on the market. In the UK, however, the “Moggie” is just one in a large field of competitors. Some are closer to the original Morgan design than the Morgan itself, while others are futuristic in the creepy Seventies sense of the word. The Telegraph recently put eleven of them together for a short test.
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