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Is this Your Commuting Future?

S'toon

Knows where his towel is
Apr 23, 2015
3,702
3,748
AB
There was a day in October, 2012 when Vancouver’s Jerry Kroll, then 52, saw something in Fremont, California that came as revelation. With a background in high-octane NASCAR auto racing and, oddly, an equally compelling entrepreneurial interest in building an electric vehicle for urban commuters in B.C., Kroll and an automotive friend, Henry Reisner, arranged a tour of the vast Tesla Motors assembly plant located south of San Francisco. They saw 160 huge, German-made robots – with X-Men names like Wolverine, Cyclops and Iceman – operating on an automated, ultra-modern assembly line that required little human involvement. They saw windshields affixed and 540 kilogram lithium-ion batteries being installed, all robotically.

They watched the finished $100,000 Tesla Model S electric sedans silently roll out of the 1.5 kilometre-long plant, all pre-sold.

The two were agog. They saw the future: North American car manufacturing was not necessarily dead; but Detroit’s carbon-spewing gas-guzzlers were, they understood, doomed. With the latest technology, imagination and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s money, the impossible – creating a non-polluting, electrically-powered vehicle – was possible.

“Can we do this? Reisner asked.

“We can do this,” Kroll replied.

The “this” in their discussion was revolutionary. For five years previous, they’d been investigating the engineering and economic potential of creating a small electric vehicle meant for urban commuters. They’d looked at the Renault Twizy, but found it little more than an advanced golf cart that can’t operate on highways. They’d studied the California-designed Corbin Sparrow, a three-wheeled, jellybean-shaped EV, but discovered it had serious design and engineering faults.

Returning to Vancouver that fall, Kroll and Reisner decided they needed to create an entirely new vehicle. It would be a one-passenger, highway capable EV, and be marketed toward the 83 per cent of drivers who commute daily by themselves. Thus the name: Solo. Utilizing Reisner’s expertise as an automotive engineer at Vancouver’s 57-year-old Intermeccanica Custom Coach Builders, and with Kroll’s formidable chutzpah derived from running Ascend Sportmanagement, a marketing agency for celebrity athletes and race-car drivers, the two would carve out a unique space in the growing EV field. With Tesla holding the high-end sedan market, the $20,000 Solo would provide a solution for some of the 140 million commuters in North America who were prepared to Think Small.

<snip>
Full article at:
Is this Your Commuting Future? | The Tyee
 
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int32_t

Tesla Spotter
Nov 21, 2015
634
423
Calgary area, AB, Canada
Interesting ... a car I could almost afford now without waiting for the 3. On the other hand, though I hate to be so down on a Canadian electric car company, you'd have to have two vehicles. One for you, and one for you and everyone else when you go on trips (unless you like hiking alone). That's double the insurance. The 3 will cost less than three times as much and carry five times as many people and much more gear twice as far. The nice thing about such a small vehicle is that it charges so fast thanks to its small battery, but the advantages that I can see stop there. I think I'll keep sitting on my 3 reservation for now. :)

Looking at their site they do say it's meant for a household with another vehicle already, so at least they're honest. I'm needing a more all-purpose vehicle, although I have little doubt that there are lots of folks who could use something nimble and efficient like this. :rolleyes:
 

voyager

Active Member
Apr 28, 2009
1,014
562
Amsterdam, Netherlands
At least here in the US lane splitting is illegal in a lot of states, though legal in others.

Lit Motors is working on that concept though:
C-1 - Lit Motors

IThe 3 will cost less than three times as much and carry five times as many people and much more gear twice as far. The nice thing about such a small vehicle is that it charges so fast thanks to its small battery, but the advantages that I can see stop there. I think I'll keep sitting on my 3 reservation for now. :)
:rolleyes:

It's a question of economy of scale. I have no doubt that if those guys are able to scale production up to 100,000 a year, it would cost around what Elio Motors asks for its three-wheeler, around 8-9K. But you have a point in having one car that can perform multiple tasks, rather than one that can carry only one person.

Then again, you shouldn't forget that 90-95% of all drivers sit alone in their car, especially during the daily commute. Need a bigger car? Pick one from a car-sharing program, or rent one. Even Elon Musk must have realized this.

xElectraSoloDraft__page_thumb.jpg.pagespeed.ic.nG4BbRHfYl.webp
 

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Moderator
Sep 21, 2013
19,495
14,512
West Vancouver, British Columbia
I'm a bit skeptical of the appeal of the Solo. I think it's a bit too exotic looking for most people's tastes.
I am also skeptical, but it's not the look of the vehicle that concerns me, it's the fact that it can only carry a single person. That makes it a very specialized vehicle with, I think, limited appeal.

The article describes the two guys who started that EV project as being astounded by the number of reservations that have been made by the Model 3, as if that validated their EV idea. But the Model 3 is a mid-size 5-passenger 4-door sedan, the most popular type of passenger car on the planet (and it will go 200 miles on a charge and a sub 6-second 0-60 time). A single passenger 3-wheel EV that has a max range of about 100 miles going around 60 mph is kind of an oddball car.

I wish them luck, and hope they make it. But they sound seriously underfunded.
 

SΞXY P100D

$ Trillion Musk
Nov 6, 2015
284
284
Jersey
To answer the title... ummm, no. You might as well save up for the Model 3 which arrives in couple of years, or buy yourself a used EV coz you can get a good one for dirt cheap. I got my Ford Focus Electric for under $12k and is fully loaded and almost brand new.

Why a single person vehicle anyway? It's too impractical. Even for golf courses it would be a tough sell. :confused:
 

Red Sage

The Cybernetic Samurai
Jul 6, 2014
3,033
2,198
Los Angeles CA
I have always been vehemently against the concept of a 'commuter car' or 'city car'. I am solidly in the camp of Elon Musk, believing that to encourage purchase, you must build a 'compelling car' instead. I believe that marketing a vehicle as naught more than a commuting appliance is a mistake. It is better to show anything that is a 'weirdmobile' in particular as being a FUN vehicle, first and foremost. This would be a better car for youngsters and students, not at all something that should be marketed for commuting, even if that ends up being exactly what it were used for primarily. Because commuting is NOT fun.
 

voyager

Active Member
Apr 28, 2009
1,014
562
Amsterdam, Netherlands
I have always been vehemently against the concept of a 'commuter car' or 'city car'. I am solidly in the camp of Elon Musk, believing that to encourage purchase, you must build a 'compelling car' instead. I believe that marketing a vehicle as naught more than a commuting appliance is a mistake. It is better to show anything that is a 'weirdmobile' in particular as being a FUN vehicle, first and foremost. This would be a better car for youngsters and students, not at all something that should be marketed for commuting, even if that ends up being exactly what it were used for primarily. Because commuting is NOT fun.

Within the framework of Musk's early adopter strategy, and even 2nd wave adopter strategy, it makes sense to present a compelling automotive statement that has substance, has road presence. Reality however is that most people sit alone in their cars, particularly during their daily commute. Of course you can share your Tesla (most Tesla owners don't feel like it).... But why not share the road, free up freeway space, and become more flexible on the basis of its much smaller footprint? Electric drive > an appliance-like vehicle that weighs approx. one-third of a Model S, needing less batteries... I can see the relationship. It could be... actually should be part of Musk's long-term widespread EV strategy.

Fwy+Cropped.jpg
 

SΞXY P100D

$ Trillion Musk
Nov 6, 2015
284
284
Jersey
A single person commuter car is practical until you have to drop off your kids at school or go shopping at Costco. The market would be too small, it seems, because it's not geared towards people with families.

I would consider it if I were living single in a big city where there's less traffic and no public transportation near my residence, and I need to rent this car akin to renting a Citibike because it would probably be too expensive and impractical for me to own a car or garage.

Or I can take a taxi.
 
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Yggdrasill

Active Member
Feb 29, 2012
4,107
7,192
Kongsberg, Norway
A one person commuter car will probably make sense once autonomous drive is perfected. You could have a fleet of one person commuter cars that you could order from your phone, to bring you to or from work as needed. The cost could be fairly minimal, as the vehicle itself would be fairly low cost, and it could do a substantial number of trips per day. These cars could be programmed to drive in a tight formation, so that congestion would be reduced. If you could fit four one person cars into the space used by a car carrying one person, you could cut down congestion by up to 75%.

Say you could get a decent one person mass produced autonomous commuter vehicle for 10k USD. And it would do 60k miles worth of 40 mile trips in a year. And at 300k miles it would be scrapped. That would bring the cost of depreciation down to 1.3 USD/trip. Plus ~1 USD/trip in electricity. It should be possible to offer this service for around 3-5 USD/trip. Which would bring you 20-30 miles from your driveway to the front door at work, without the hassle of public transportation. Plus, it shouldn't be hard to get politicians to allow access to car pool lanes. (Motorcycles are already allowed access to bus/taxi lanes here.)

Offering one person cars for private ownership is not likely to be a success. The price reductions from the reduced size aren't significant enough in comparison with the loss of utility. For individuals, it's usually better to own larger cars.
 
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voyager

Active Member
Apr 28, 2009
1,014
562
Amsterdam, Netherlands
A single person commuter car is practical until you have to drop off your kids at school or go shopping at Costco.

A narrowish vehicle can accommodate two... even three persons. Excellentview to the outside as well as on the kids via the interior mirror.
space-efficient-vehicle5.jpg
Space_Efficient_Vehicle_SEV_close_up.jpg


A one person commuter car will probably make sense once autonomous drive is perfected.

Offering one person cars for private ownership is not likely to be a success. The price reductions from the reduced size aren't significant enough in comparison with the loss of utility. For individuals, it's usually better to own larger cars.
The smaller the footprint, the better the throughput. Although I don see happening what you see below any time soon...

1gG63Os.gif
 
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Red Sage

The Cybernetic Samurai
Jul 6, 2014
3,033
2,198
Los Angeles CA
But why not share the road, free up freeway space, and become more flexible on the basis of its much smaller footprint? Electric drive > an appliance-like vehicle that weighs approx. one-third of a Model S, needing less batteries... I can see the relationship. It could be... actually should be part of Musk's long-term widespread EV strategy.

Fwy+Cropped.jpg
Elon Musk has answered the 'why not' multiple times, as I did in my previous post. Because you must build something that people WANT TO BUY. Otherwise you accomplish nothing.

I am familiar with that stretch of the 405 FWY, Northbound. I take it to go visit by Buddy SGLS. It's usually filled with SUVs and cars no smaller than a BMW 7-Series. There might be as many as three of the Prius in the HOV lane sometimes, but I have seen more of the BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, and Fiat 500e on the Southbound side than anywhere else in town. That weirdmobile would not 'fit in' with the crowd on the 405 parking lot, who barely tolerate motorcycles. Heck, once I saw a regular Fiat 500, complete with tailpipe, in the HOV lane around there with a single occupant -- someone had fabricated their own 'Clean Air Vehicle' stickers for it...
 

Red Sage

The Cybernetic Samurai
Jul 6, 2014
3,033
2,198
Los Angeles CA
A narrowish vehicle can accommodate two... even three persons. Excellentview to the outside as well as on the kids via the interior mirror.
space-efficient-vehicle5.jpg
Space_Efficient_Vehicle_SEV_close_up.jpg
Yeah. This would be fine in a world of people who are about my size or smaller. But in the United States of America, most people haven't been an active participant within a gymnasium at any point after the age of fourteen. Thus, any one person would take up the volume of all three people shown in the weirdmobile you show here. The incessant cries by the vehicle that 'load is unbalanced' would really get on their nerves. I have no illusion of seeing Americans actually being in any type of reasonable condition anytime soon. This scene is much more likely here:
fat-ppl-wall-e.jpg

Walle-human-sheeple.jpg
 

voyager

Active Member
Apr 28, 2009
1,014
562
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Red Sage,
Yep, you need to start somewhere. Like you simply needed to start making EVs a decade ago... So many were against it, as having EVs requires a new energy-feeding infrastructure. A three-seater can be simply converted into a two-seater with wider seats... although I would advise against it, as it should be marketed as a lean vehicle for lean people. Approx. 75 million cars are sold each year worldwide. Selling 1 to 1 out of a 750 prospective buyers seems quite doable.
 

bxr140

Active Member
Nov 18, 2014
3,040
4,888
Bay Area
But why not share the road, free up freeway space, and become more flexible on the basis of its much smaller footprint?

I understand your point, and I sympathize when people shoot it down by citing some unique edge case where the logic breaks ('but what about my monthly Costco run?'), but I don't think mini-vechicles will be a solution for quite some time--not till there's a hyper loop-esque system in place or some other jetsons-like equivalent. I know it sounds defeatist, but human nature's resistance to change coupled with the complicated and slow moving bureaucracy behind safety legislation casts a heavy shadow on the single/tandem seater car concept.

That said, I think autonomous vechicles also allow for densification of roadways, and I think in context, 'regular' AVs are a significantly closer solution than minis. Elon understands human nature pretty well, and he understands that tackling autonomy with an otherwise [relatively] normal car is the quickest way to advance personal transportation. Trying to push a single/tandem type car right now would just too tough a row to hoe.

Btw, I'd buy a $10k single seater BEV in half a heartbeat.
 
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