I confess I had a slight tinge of that cynicism when I first saw Organic Transit's ELF being touted in a shop window in Durham.
Yet, as I posted recently, a year or two later I'm seeing more ELFs around town, and they are making increasingly serious moves to ramp up production. In the latest sign that this is more than just a niche player, Organic Transit has announced it's hiring Dr. Apoorv Agarwal—a former Ford Motor Company Executive—as its general manager. Agarwal's mission is plainly stated, and that's to scale up production from "hundreds of units per year to thousands of units in multiple geographies." That's music to the ears of anyone interested in human-powered transportation:
Agarwal left Ford Motor Company after a 15-year career, most recently in Electrified Powertrain Engineering responsible for hybrid and electric vehicle systems and strategy. "In two years we've gone from zero to hundreds of ELFs in seven countries," said CEO Rob Cotter. "As an engineer and business leader dedicated to sustainability, Apoorv compliments our mission and rapid growth strategy."
"I wanted to make a meaningful impact on personal mobility," said Agarwal. "Sustainable mobility is the biggest transportation challenge we have on the planet."
This may not be as high profile a coup as former GM Vice-Chair Bob Lutz joining electric truck company Via Motors but it is, I believe, an encouraging sign of where the future of transportation is headed.
And just in case you haven't seen the ELF in action yet, check out their original Kickstarter video—which includes a small hint at their planned future of geographically-distributed manufacturing hubs in downtown locations.