Culture | February 21, 2019 9:00 am

A New Take on the Future of Transport Is Taking Orders in California

Arcimoto’s “fun utility vehicle” isn’t a car. Or is it?

A New Take on the Future of Transport Is Taking Orders in California
Jeremy Bronson

What’s better than a car? Or an Uber?

Something in the middle: a way to get around town — without getting tied down, or the overwhelming sense that you’re supporting “the ongoing erasure of public life.”

Meet the FUV Evergreen Edition, now available for the first time to West Coast buyers only at a price tag that checks in under $20K.

So what’s a “fun utility vehicle”? A three-wheeled electric vehicle that can go far (up to 100 miles in the city on a single charge) and fast (up to 75 miles per hour). The Evergreen comes pre-loaded with heated seats, heated grips, Bluetooth speakers, removable doors, lockable rear storage, Level 1 charging cable and HOV lane access. Expect deliveries this spring, with the offer expanded to other, inferior states in the future.

Curiosity firmly piqued, we rang Arcimoto founder and president Mark Frohnmayer to get the lowdown on the Evergreen.

InsideHook: The Evergreen is inexpensive relative to some other forward-looking vehicles (cough*Tesla*cough). How do see Arcimoto’s pricing evolving?

Mark Frohnmayer: Our mission is to help catalyze the shift to a sustainable transportation system — and Mark fundamentally, we don’t believe we’ll get there until the wide swath of the market can afford these solutions. When people talk about a car being “affordable” at $35,000, we think they’re missing the economic reality for most people today. This is why true affordability has been a key goal for Arcimoto’s products: Even our premium trim Evergreen Edition is coming into the market at a sub-$20k price point, and we expect to introduce even more affordable models over time.

IH: How do you get people to change their ideas about what a “car” should be, or look like?

MF: We give them test drives. We’ve found that once people actually experience the Arcimoto, they start to come up with all of the ways it could be useful in their lives. It is really the experience of the vehicle that sells it — the windscreen and panoramic roof protect you from the elements, and the open experience, electric torque, and nimble form all contribute to a truly joyful, motorcycle-like ride. Once people take inventory of how they typically use a car, most come to the conclusion the Arcimoto will solve those same daily trips while being more fun, better for the planet, and way easier to park.

IH: How do you hope, and how do you expect, people will use their Evergreens? Will it replace cars? Live in that gray space between what you can do with a bike and a Zipcar?

MF: Our overarching goal is to reduce the footprint of transportation — to provide solutions to common transportation tasks that are smaller, lighter, and dramatically more efficient. Versus a small scooter that’s great for “last mile” transport, the Arcimoto expands the usable radius to a “last 15 mile” or “last 30 mile” solution. It blends the efficiency, maneuverability, and fun factor of the motorcycle or bike with a stable, capable platform.

This functionality extends to fleets as well. We introduced our first fleet offering last week, the Rapid Responder, to help emergency responders get life-saving expertise and supplies to accident sites more quickly. In the coming months we plan to introduce several more fleet-focused Arcimoto platform vehicles that will target additional market segments.

In the self-driving robo-car world of the future, we see the Arcimoto platform as ideal for both the ~85% of ride share trips that are now taken alone, as well as local autonomous delivery.

IH: I feel like some people are just going to look at it and say, “That’s so small! How do I go on the highway and not get crushed?” How do you expand the thinking on that?

MF: One bit of feedback that we get is that the vehicle “feels” like a larger vehicle that people initially expect: You sit up about the height as you would in a crossover, you can see more — and be seen more easily by other motorists. The steering system and electric drive give you a very connected feel, and the low center of gravity and reverse-trike form create a very stable foundation for driving. We see “small” as a strength — one of the biggest hassles for urban drivers is finding parking, and because the FUV parks three to a space, it’s a huge time saver for driving in congested cities. Rockstar parking comes standard!

All photos courtesy of Arcimoto, Inc.