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Electra Meccanica honors deposits on other cars if buyers are impatient

If you have a pre-order deposit for an Elio, a Tesla Model 3, or any other car and you’re getting a little antsy, Electra Meccanica has an offer for you. Electra Meccanica is the Vancouver, British Columbia–based company developing the three-wheeled Solo single-seat electric vehicle (EV) — pictured above. On the Solo maker’s blog, CEO Jerry Knoll offered to honor customer deposits on other cars.

“Electra Meccanica Vehicles Corporation announced today that [it] will be honoring all deposits from individuals who have existing pre-orders with other vehicle manufacturers. Specifically, the company will honor all levels of customer deposits up to $1,000 USD with an equal value deposit for a new Solo electric car upon final delivery of their vehicle.”

The Solo doesn’t have a firm delivery date itself, although it was originally scheduled for September 9, 2016.  Jeff Holland, Electrica Meccanica’s vice president of global marketing and communications, messaged Digital Trends that, “The Solo is finishing up its certification and compliance work and deliveries should start in the new year.” Asked if that could mean during the first quarter, Holland replied, “It depends on the certification date,” adding that the only thing holding up delivery is federal approval.

The Solo EV has a rated top speed of 80 mph and a range up to 100 miles on a battery charge. As a three-wheeled vehicle,  the Solo’s classification as a car, motorcycle, or autocycle could differ from state to state. It’s a stretch to think that someone holding a reservation for a Tesla Model 3, also scheduled to start deliveries in 2017, would be interested in switching to a Solo instead, although Holland said a few Model 3 reservation-holders have switched to Solo. The three-wheeled Elio, however, is a different matter and the obvious reason for Electra Meccanica’s offer.

As reported by Gas2, an Elio Motors SEC filing in September casts doubt on the company’s ability to continue operations. Elio had an accumulated loss of more than $120 million and a working capital deficit of more than $25 million as of September 30, 2016. In the first nine months of 2016 Elio Motor had a net loss of almost $35 million and stated, “If we are unable to continue to obtain financing to meet our working capital requirements, we may have to curtail our business sharply or cease operations altogether.”

Elio had intended to earn substantial revenue, more than from actual vehicle sales, selling Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) credits to other manufacturers, Gas2 reported. However, as Elio states in the SEC filing, “Currently, we do not qualify for participation in the CAFE program, since the Elio is not an automobile. We have been working with members of Congress and with the former acting head of the NHTSA to permit participation in the program by autocycles.” There’s also uncertainty whether the CAFE requirements and credit program will be continued by the EPA under the incoming administration.

The Elio has two seats, an 84 mpg-rated gas engine, and a base price of $7,300. It compares directly to the Solo on the basis of its three wheels, small size, and economical operation. Both vehicles also appeal to people looking for something quite different and maybe a little more fun than typical local commuter vehicles or city cars. The Solo EV is more than twice as expensive, starting at $15,140.

Because the two cars target similar buyers, and because there are questions about Elio’s continued operation, there’s little question Electra Meccanica’s deposit-matching offer is directed at Elio reservation holders.

“With the recent financial and production challenges faced by some of our competitors, we’ve had some of their reservation holders ask us if they could transfer their deposits over to a Solo because of either uncertainty about their vehicle ever being produced or they just didn’t want to wait for years to get their car,” said Electra Meccanica’s Kroll in its statement. “We wanted [to] let others know that we will accept those deposits and provide relief for reservation holders with a suitable vehicle replacement option.”