Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corp., a Vancouver-based designer and manufacturer of a three-wheeled, one-person electric vehicle called the Solo, reports it completed a $12 million offering of its common shares this week, to continue funding its efforts to start mass-producing the Solo at a plant in China.
“We received the first 50 from China. They have been shipped to our facility in Vancouver for calibration, and then for delivery to our first customers,” said CEO Jerry Kroll, in a phone interview March 29.
Incorporated in 2015, Electra Meccanica is listed on NASDAQ under the symbol SOLO. It expects net proceeds from the offering, which was completed March 27, of $11 million, the company said. It is also working to develop a two-seat, four-wheeled roadster, to be called the Tofino.
The (really) small, car-like body of the Solo has an enclosed passenger compartment. But for regulatory purposes, the three-wheeler is categorized as a motorcycle, Kroll said. Therefore, the vehicle doesn’t have to meet a long list of federal motor vehicle safety standards for cars and trucks, such as supplemental restraints including air bags.
There are a number of small companies trying to kick-start three-wheeled electric vehicles as a product niche in North America.
Kroll said Electra Meccanica is sticking with a target of $15,500 for its retail price at launch. And while a lot of other manufacturers are worried about the threat of U.S. tariffs on imported vehicles and parts, when he was asked about the possibility, Kroll simply said, “You have to deal with what happens.”
Longer term, the CEO said it’s always been the company’s “master plan” to ultimately produce vehicles in the United States.
Meanwhile, Electra Meccanica says it has an agreement with Chongqing Zongshen Automobile Co., Ltd. in Chongqing, China to produce a total of 75,000 Solo vehicles. According to Electra Meccanica, Zongshen produces more than 2 million motorcycles annually, including two-wheeled motorcycles, electric motorcycles, three-wheeled motorcycles, cross-country vehicles and all-terrain vehicles.
Kroll said the Solo production target is 5,000 units for 2019, 20,000 in 2020, and 50,000 in 2021. That timetable has slipped since a filing in February 2018, when Electra Meccanica said it expected the first 5,000 units in 2018.
Besides getting mass production going, Electra Meccanica also needs to cement plans for U.S. distribution. Kroll said the company is considering signing up with a big-box retailer, to offer its products. The company could also sign up its own dealers, or work with franchised dealers that have other brands, Kroll said.