Sad news for three-wheeled vehicle enthusiasts: The Electrameccanica Solo, one of our favorite weird EVs of the 21st century, isn’t just ending production — it’s going extinct thanks to a buyback scheme affecting many examples. Electrameccanica is offering to repurchase the vast majority of these zippy little three-wheelers, and those that are turned in to their maker may never see the road again.
Automotive News Canada reports that Electrameccanica has ended Solo production both in China and in Arizona, citing plans to focus on a four-wheeled model. While disappointing, this new doesn’t feel terribly surprising given the track record of three-wheelers in America. Although a few daring individuals plunked some cash down on more recreational three-wheelers Polaris Slingshots and Morgan Three-Wheelers, there just hasn’t been a huge market for daily transportation with more than two but fewer than four wheels.
While it’s not strange to hear of a three-wheeler being discontinued, it is unusual that Electrameccanica is buying back every Solo made since 2019, which should be pretty much all of them since the first customer unit was reportedly delivered in 2018. Here’s the reason why, per the automaker:
While driving, the vehicle may experience a loss of propulsion. An instrument cluster warning light illuminates, and the driver will experience a loss of power as the vehicle decelerates as if removing their foot from the accelerator pedal. Steering, braking, and lighting systems are not impacted. The vehicle can be restarted after a period of time. In the event of sudden loss of propulsion, the vehicle maintains all other critical functionality including power steering, braking, and lighting, and in most instances allows the driver to pull over.
If the error occurs, a red “BMS” or “Motor Icon” instrument cluster warning light will illuminate, indicating a loss of propulsion.
EMV (ElectraMeccanica Vehicles) has been unable to determine a root cause for the issue, therefore, EMV is repurchasing the SOLO.
Customers can be relieved of their three-wheelers in exchange for a full refund, and it really seems like a full refund. According to Electrameccanica’s website, the company claims:
We will use the bill of sale to determine the amount to be refunded. This document will allow us to see how much has been paid inclusive of tax, applicable discounts, delivery, and other miscellaneous items.
While it’s theoretically possible to hold onto a recalled Solo, Electrameccanica warns:
EMV strongly recommends you accept the purchase offer for safety reasons. Please note that EMV will no longer warrant, support, or service your vehicle.
A claimed 429 Solos are eligible for buybacks, but the more astonishing fact is that Electrameccanica has 800 Solos just sitting around unsold. Unsold inventory isn’t surprising given the relatively narrow appeal of a vehicle like this, but 800 units is a lot. If you lined all 800 up nose-to-tail, you’d have a mile and a half of electric three-wheelers, all of which currently have an unknown fate. What is known is the fate of Electrameccanica’s head office in Burnaby, British Columbia. It’s being shut down, and all operations are moving to Arizona as the company plans a four-wheeler dubbed E4.
We quite like the Electrameccanica Solo even though it has a few deficiencies, notably its price of $18,500. That’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t have phenomenal range, only seats one, and has an interior described by our Mercedes Streeter as “no worse than, say, a mid-2000s GM product.”
However, the Solo is unabashedly weird, a truly unusual little shoe of a car that can happily charge overnight on household voltage and features a zero-to-60 time that varies depending on what you ate for breakfast. It looks like almost nothing else on the road, weighs 581 pounds less than a new Mazda MX-5, and features outstanding visibility you just don’t get in most modern cars.
My colleague Mercedes took the Solo for a spin on the roads outside the Los Angeles Convention Center and had fun punching the accelerator off the lights, reveling in the instant electric torque and low curb weight of this very small automobile. For congested urban areas with poor public transit infrastructure and weather hostile to cycling, the Solo looks like an absolute blast. It’s hard to not imagine slicing and dicing through traffic like a Ginsu, zipping through lanes narrowed by parked cars which SUVs wouldn’t dare to take.
If you have a penchant for weird cars, there is some good news here. Very early Solos reportedly aren’t affected by buybacks, and I doubt that every newer Solo has returned to its maker, so there’s a chance to swoop in and buy a slice of history. However, if you just like to keep your eyes peeled for unusual traffic, this rare sight on the roads is about to get even rarer.
(Photo credits: Electrameccanica, The Autopian)
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