First ElectraMeccanica SOLO EV Workout: Certified head circumference wherever you go

Electrek recently had the opportunity to test the ElectraMeccanica SOLO EV for a few days and see what this single passenger vessel can do. Small but fast, the SOLO offers fun for lone riders and a photo-worthy experience for everyone you pass.

ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corporation and the SOLO EV

ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. ($SOLO) is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based electric vehicle designer and manufacturer that has been developing its three-wheeled, single-passenger electric vehicle called SOLO since 2015.

The SOLO EV was specifically designed for commuting and deliveries, as its compact size makes it perfect for urban conditions. That being said, its 100-mile range and 80mph top speed also make it perfectly suited for motorway travel – if you’re brave enough (more on that later).

Last October, ElectraMeccanica began shipping its flagship SOLO EV to customers and has continued to do so for residential and commercial fleets ever since. It will soon be followed by a Cargo version offering twice the capacity, with deliveries expected to begin in the second quarter of this year.

Since Electrek first hearing about the SOLO EV in 2015, we’ve followed ElectraMeccanica’s progress closely, following the automaker from its US manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona, to its latest news on the autonomous food delivery tests with the startup Faction.

I finally got the chance to experience the SOLO EV myself and share a review, here’s how it went.

Initial Thoughts Inside and Out of the SOLO EV

Even after years of seeing the ElectraMeccanica SOLO in pictures, videos, and even close-ups at my local mall, I was still unprepared for the uniqueness of a vehicle. There are tiny aspects to its design that make perfect sense for a single-seat EV, but still feel quite alien when driving.

For example, two doors. It makes total sense from a design standpoint, as the driver can enter from either side, but it’s still an odd feeling compared to a standard two-seat forward cabin. Which door to enter? Which to go out? These are not decisions you normally face as a driver.

The same goes for the windows – a switch on each door. In my electric vehicle, I can control my four windows with one hand from my driver’s seat. Rolling down the windows of the SOLO required both hands. Not a problem at all, just different.

Same for the seat belt. As an American driver, I take a seat and pull my seat belt from my left shoulder across my body, but in the SOLO it’s on the right. I constantly found myself subconsciously grabbing air over my left shoulder. Again, it’s not issues, just divergent but endearing features that make this electric vehicle unique.

The SOLO takes much longer to start than a traditional electric vehicle, as you have to turn the key for at least three seconds before the vehicle is really on and ready to go. Once that charge is primed, you’re off to the races.

Before receiving my delivery, I was hoping to get the red exterior SOLO, and my wish came true. It’s a color that really pops on an already unique three-wheeler, and it only adds to the SOLO’s appeal to be noticed when you zoom in on it.

Lastly, I know this is a small one-up vehicle, but I was still surprised at how minimal the cargo space was. You can definitely fit a few grocery bags in there, but space is definitely limited. I’d be interested to see how the double cargo space of the upcoming SOLO variant compares.

  • SOLO EV
  • SOLO EV
  • SOLO EV

Driving the SOLO

When you enter the cabin of the SOLO, it feels more like a cockpit, just you and the road. Like all electric vehicles, the motor’s instant torque provides enough oomph to start quickly, and the SOLO’s low center of gravity and tight turning radius make it perfect for precise, quick maneuvers.

Zipping (that’s the perfect word to describe this ride) around the South Bay of Los Angeles, there is no shortage of electric vehicles, bicycles or golf carts. However, everyone stopped in his tracks to watch me go SOLO. This was by far my biggest lesson in my time with the EV – everyone wants to take a picture of it or ask you about it, because it’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

I took the red SOLO to Beverly Hills for an unrelated EV event, which required some freeway time. Getting onto the freeway and past other vehicles was fairly easy, although it was odd not having a rear view mirror (your own head and seat would obstruct your view, even if you had one).

To compensate for this lack of a rear sight, the SOLO is equipped with larger side mirrors, providing wider visibility. They did just fine, but it was still a little scary to change lanes based solely on those mirrors, since you can’t see behind you or really turn over your shoulder to check for potential blind spots.

While the SOLO can certainly hold its own at freeway speeds, I was just as eager to take the exit to lower speeds with fewer cars around me. I was surprised to learn that the EV doesn’t have many of the standard safety features required for four-wheeled vehicles like airbags or anti-lock brakes.

Can it drive on the highway? Absoutely. Should you feel safe in the SOLO on the highway? It’s subjective, but I personally drove quite defensively to ensure my own safety in such a small vehicle and would recommend sticking to local roads.

During my four days with the SOLO EV, I drove it (mostly locally, apart from the trip to BH) and had no range issues. I found the 100 miles on a single charge quite adequate.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I had a blast with the SOLO EV, and several people asked me to roll down my window at the stop lights to ask where they could get one for themselves. After testing the EV on the hills of Hermosa Beach, the dreaded 405, and the Pacific Coast Highway, I would definitely recommend the SOLO as a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV).

For someone on the way to the store or to work, this is fine, as long as you don’t carry too much. Personally, I think the Cargo version of the SOLO might prove more useful, as it seems like a great zero-emissions option for food or grocery deliveries. These vehicles usually stay fairly local and won’t need to travel as much on the highways.

All in all, I’m grateful for the opportunity to drive ElectraMeccanica’s SOLO EV and experience all of its charm for myself, as well as any curious pedestrians I encountered along the way. I’m interested in seeing the Cargo version up close to compare its available space.

As a cool little local NEV, I say go for it, but as a road vehicle, I say – stay local. At the very least, see if there’s an ElectraMeccanica outlet or test drive event near you. The SOLO EV is absolutely worth experiencing, even if it’s just a test drive to begin with.

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