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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My neighbor had his son (living in California) purchase one last summer, and then had it shipped to a suburb of Chicago. Maybe could justify these for the city, but downright stupid for the suburbs – especially since it’s worthless in the snow.
Funniest thing is that shortly after he purchased this, he pulled up next to me while I was mowing the lawn (JD F510 garden tractor). At 84 inches long, it was just 2 feet shorter than the Solo.
I haven’t seen him driving it this year, so maybe he already realized how impractical it was and got rid of it.
Well it was kind of a stupid design anyway:
Front almost as wide as a regular sized car, actually looks a bit like a regular small car from 1998, maybe a Fiat or Ford.. Well, why the hell not have some space in it then, when it’s that wide?
No rear window or side windows behind the doors, so you get as many blind angles as when driving a delivery van.
Yes, people DO want small and cheap electric cars. Something useable should turn up anytime now. Most likely from China.
I’m still fascinated by the 40 year old swiss motorcycle car, especially that it had as many wheels as needed, 2 when driving, 4 when stopping/starting, but I know it’s also too strange to ever be a succes: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecomobile
3 wheels works places where nobody gives a hoot, like India or Vietnam, and where you don’t feel the fear of being mauled by a F-150 everywhere.
Inspired by Mercedes, I actually test drove one last November in Portland and was really taken by the little bucket of triceriweird. If I was still commuting in to the city for work daily I would have seriously considered it, especially considering they had a $3000 off special going, but it just wasn’t the right fit. Hope they can continue in whatever form
Perhaps they can’t solve the issue specific to the 3-wheeler, but want to cut their losses on their 3-wheeler and dismantle these to reuse parts for the 4-wheeler.
I saw one about two months ago. Only time I’ve seen one. I was ogling it (because weird!) and the drivers face and posture did NOT say thrilled. Maybe it just wasn’t a good day, maybe he didn’t like the car.
Perhaps they just want to create a cult following like what eventually happened with GM’s EV1. Good on them for at least squaring up with their customers.
Sad to see them leave Burnaby, though.
I’m disappointed that instead of figuring out the issue, they are just throwing in the towel and giving up.
Now having said that, I always thought Electromecannica Solo was a bad fit for what the Intermecannica traditionally did… which was expensive, low volume, high quality reproductions of the Porsche 356:
Instead of a low-end single seater, they should have started with a high end retro BEV.
And apparently they had intention to do that… They even had an ‘e-Roadster’ link on their webpage. But I think they put a stop to that as the link for it is broken. At least one did get built though:
This also might be tied to the new CEO (a former GM exec named Susan Docherty)
seeing that the Solo project was a money loser and not worth salvaging:
BMS = Broken Miniature Shitbox
I’ve always been weirdly irritated by the fact that, fender-to-fender, it’s the same width as a lot of conventual 4-wheeled small cars, but they opted for just a single seat, when two side by side (and maybe even a third in the back) should have been achievable.
The design made it highly specialized for single person commuting and totally useless for anything else, meaning it could never work as an only car for really anyone, but cost as much as a normal car, so you spend twice as much money on two vehicles to duplicate the same functionality as one car.
What would possess someone to get this over an iMiev?
Now part of me wants to go buy one and keep it as a weekend or rare novelty vehicle.
Yup current owner just waiting on the buyback package and see what they’re offering. Bought this used but still 15k out the door + shipping.
Definitely unique vehicle, the always on traction control makes it LESS fun but I guess that’s a safety thing. Wish they allow you to turn it off. Despite the small trunk I’ve made quite a few Costco run and everything fits fine.
Huh,it actually looks quite good with the race paint
Why did you buy it over something like a Mitsubishi i-MiEV? Genuinely curious.
Almost? Which ones are the NOT buying back? 😛
It sounds like GM bought EMV and wants to CRUSH THEM!!! Wait, nevermind, EMV is actually refunding people’s money.
It was ECD (Energy Conversion Devices) Ovonics, not EMV. And that later became Cobasys.
Buying these back plus having 800 unsold, plus switching HQ to another country to concentrate on the upcoming 4 wheeler sounds an awful like the failed CEO stepping down to spend more time with his family. They can’t get this right, but they can build a 4-wheeler with the far greater regulations they’re subject to? There must be some scam to get Federal money out of the relocation or similar.
“EMV (ElectraMeccanica Vehicles) has been unable to determine a root cause for the issue, therefore, EMV is repurchasing the SOLO.”
While I appreciate that they are buying back every unit, I don’t have much faith in their upcoming 4 wheeled variant if they can’t find a fix for the SOLO.
Is history going to be repeat itself with the 4 wheeled model?
Man, I saw this for the first time in the wild just 2 weeks ago! Still a bit puzzled what hero got one all the way to Charleston, SC. It seems likely this is a BMS issue, and the chance of liability was more expensive than the cost of just repurchasing. I am curious what the terms are. If it’s the whole price returned, sure! But depreciated value it probably very little, so maybe just hang on to it if you’re handy? How would our Marble Insurance partner handle someone continue to drive one of these guys for the next decade?
“We can’t figure out the root cause of our cars randomly shutting down. Get psyched for our next car!” -so dumb
Actually i give them credit for this.It’s obvious they’re really saying ‘let’s dump this loser and make something better’
It’s more like “We can’t figure out the root cause of our cars randomly shutting down, but we’re pretty sure an extra wheel will fix it”.
“While driving, the vehicle may experience a loss of propulsion. An instrument cluster warning light illuminates, blah, blah, blah …..EMV (ElectraMeccanica Vehicles) has been unable to determine a root cause for the issue, therefore, EMV is repurchasing the SOLO.”
Is this the definition of Idiot Light or what? The idiots don’t know what causes the light to turn on.
It makes business sense, sure. But it’s terrible optics.
Being unwilling and unable to root cause a failure mode doesn’t give me much faith in their future four wheeled product.
And having twice as many unsold units sitting on company property as there are in customer hands doesn’t give me much faith in their business management.
This whole news story reads like the underlying question is “why does this company still exist?”.
I suspect they decided it just wasn’t worth fixing, but you are absolutely right that it’s terrible optics.
This was bound to fail. I mean, come on, way too many letters in that brand. What marketing genius came up with that name? And as for the model name, Solo, that proved prophetic as it’s likely the only one they’ll ever sell.
This is a shame, but not surprising in any way. Not sure what it will take to get people to be enthusiastic about tiny cars other than a massive economic meltdown where nobody can afford something bigger than these?
Yet there are people who buy motorcycles, which compared to the Solo are far worse in bad weather and accidents.
Are you sure this is better in an accident than a bike?
Americans don’t buy motorcycles because they’re cheaper. They buy them for the thrill of riding.
The weird thing is that the Solo wasn’t that cheap. For the $18k ElectraMeccanica asked for you could get a Mitsubishi Mirage and get more of everything.
Thing is, I wouldn’t have needed a Mirage with more of anything. But I could use a city EV for solo commuting that takes up half a spot in my carport, and I liked the fact that these actually aimed to provide some driving fun and not just maximum economy or practicality. I would have paid a premium for a small-volume product that satisfied that niche design brief. Unfortunately, none of the interesting options like the Microlino are coming here anytime soon.
I thought these looked fun. That’s disappointing to hear it didn’t work out. I think if they had concentrated on making this faster/sportier and maybe open top (think Slingshot) it might have had a better chance, even at a higher price tag, because it would have been more of a fun third car option rather than a practical car.
Is there a time limit on the buyback? If you have one and like it, keep using it till it quits and then make them buy it back.
Since it is not a NHTSA recall, it sounds like up to the manufacturer’s descretion or if they are still in business?
I want one. I also wanted an Elio, though, so my wants are very suspect. Any chance of picking up one of the 800 unsold ones for the change in my pocket?
Right there with you man. I would take an Elio over this actually, just because of the second seat. Too bad they were basically a scam.
I rather have the Aptera
The press release I read said they planned to eventually sell the remaining 800. How that works out when they couldn’t figure out what’s wrong with the 400 they already sold, is beyond me.
I am by myself for most of my week while driving. This would have been perfect for me when it was too cold to ride, but that price, yikes.