A hatchback is usually a solid choice for hauling cargo, but when the hatchback in question is a single-seat three-wheeler, things get a little more cramped. Canadian EV maker Electra Meccanica looks to solve this dilemma with a new cargo version of its three-wheeled all-electric Solo, replacing the usual lift-gate with a dedicated cargo trunk.
Adding a big rear box to a car as tiny and curvy as the Solo would usually be a drag on aesthetics, but Electra Meccanica has managed to integrate it pretty well. From the front 3/4 position, the new trunk looks almost like an aerodynamic Kamm tail element … or maybe a hyper-boost jet thruster.
We’re sure some will disagree on how well the cargo trunk blends with the pre-existing Solo design, but there’s no arguing with a dedicated 226 liters of storage in a car as small and space-deprived as the Solo. That’s an increase from the standard model’s 142 liters. Electra has developed the Solo Cargo with commercial customers in mind and says that the cargo box can be customized with third-party upgrades like warming/refrigeration, lighting, internal shelves and bins, and more.
“There are a wealth of light fleet, business, and commercial applications where single occupants dominate,” says Paul Rivera, Electra Meccanica president and CEO. “From fast food franchise delivery and pizza delivery, to grocery delivery, small parcel and post, to tech repair and security firms, the Solo Cargo EV is the ideal solution to help companies minimize operational costs and maximize efficiency.”
The cargo box adds an inch of length for a full stretch of 123 in (312 cm) but doesn’t affect the Solo’s 100-mile (161-km) range or 80-mph (129-km) top speed. There’s no mention of powertrain alterations, so the Cargo presumably shares the base Solo’s 17.4-kW lithium battery-powered 56-hp electric motor.
Electra Meccanica revealed a prototype version of the Solo Cargo at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo in Long Beach, California this week. Specs and design are subject to change, and pricing was not released.
Would-be Solo Cargo owners shouldn’t get too excited just yet, as Electra Meccanica has been proceeding along quite slowly. After announcing its first US customer delivery and production model back in 2018, the company built only 40 Solo models throughout the year at its Vancouver assembly facility, sending them to pilot customers. It announced plans to ramp things up considerably in 2019 with help from Chinese mass production partner Zongshen Industrial Group, with the intent of delivering 5,000 cars to its earliest customers.
By the end of 2019, however, it had taken delivery of only 50 pre-production cars from Zongshen, using them for final on-road validation testing and engineering tweaks while pushing a full-scale production launch back to mid-2020. Production did kick-off in August 2020 but, again, only a small number of cars made it out of the factory in 2020, and those were earmarked for promotional, retailer and test drive purposes.
Electra Meccanica has spent 2020 working on expanding its production capacity. In May, it broke ground on a new 235,000-sq-ft (21,832-sq-m) manufacturing and engineering facility in Mesa, Arizona scheduled to go online in spring 2022. Plans call for the Mesa facility to produce up to 20,000 vehicles per year.
Preorders for the US$18,500 base Solo are still available, but it seems potential buyers would be wise to wait until Electra Meccanica proves it can actually deliver customer cars in a meaningful way. As of now, it’s advertising plans for a late-2021 delivery start … but we’ll believe it when it happens.