SONDERS moves up from low-cost ebikes to sub-$10K electric cars
This three-wheeled three-seater EV concept could be the next entry to the low-cost electric car market.
Building on its success in the affordable ebike market, SONDORS is now looking to enter the low-cost electric vehicle sector as well.
Although Tesla has been priming the electric car market with its models for the last few years, and Detroit has been scrambling to catch up with its EV offerings, the percentage of electric vehicles hitting the road in the US right now is still incredibly small (about 1% of all new car sales). It's not just because the current EVs aren't seen as having enough range to be practical (a recent study showed that 87% of Americans' car travel could be handled by EVs), although that 'range anxiety' fear may hold back some buyers. It may have something to do with inadequate charging infrastructure and options in some areas, and it may also have to do with the lack of a truly affordable option.
A number of companies have been trying to address the 'tiny car at a tiny cost' challenge, most notably Elio Motors (which isn't an electric, and still hasn't delivered a production model), but also the Electra Meccanica SOLO and Lit Motors' C1 (which isn't a car, but an electric self-balancing motorcycle), and they will soon be joined by SONDERS, which inititally found success in producing a sub-$500 electric bike.
SONDERS is aiming to build a three-seater, three-wheeled, fully enclosed electric vehicle priced as low as $10,000, with three different models offering a 50, 100, or 200 mile range. The body will be aluminum for lightness and strength, the batteries will be a proven lithium-ion version, with the general idea being to use currently available technologies and materials to create the vehicle, with an emphasis on redesigning the electric car concept from the ground up.
"We are creating an electric car that makes sense to the average person. As we did with our electric bike, we’re taking something elitist, over-engineered, and overpriced and turning it into something real, simple to use, and practical. SONDORS is working to be the first real option for an affordable electric car.
"We are designing this car from the ground up, with a focus on expressing simplicity. We’re forgoing the unnecessary complexities and focusing on building a technology that people will love. It's not about complicated engineering, it's about ingenious technology. That’s where electric excels." - SONDORS
However (and it's a big however), there is no prototype of the vehicle at this point, or even any hard and fast specifications, so it's merely a concept, and they're not selling any vehicles, but merely selling the idea of building them, with a $1 million equity crowdfunding offering of shares in the venture at $12 (minimum 10 shares). According to the StartEngine page for the campaign, investors aren't putting money down on a virtual pre-order, as a conventional crowdfunding campaign would ask, but along with their investment comes a spot on the reservation list, giving investors the option to be among the first to buy it. SONDERS' goal is to deliver a working prototype of the vehicle within 12 months of the closing date of the equity crowdfunding campaign, after which it aims to go into pre-production and pre-order, with an ambitious goal of sales exceeding 120,000 units in the first year of production.
Here's a very quirky and rather vague video about the project from founder Storm Sondors:
"Electric vehicles cost less to drive and maintain, but the initial purchase price is a barrier for many. There are currently many electric cars on the market. There are high-end electric cars, confusing electric cars, ugly electric cars, and overly engineered electric cars. What does not currently exist is a practical electric car that makes sense to everyone." - SONDORS
On the one hand, it's potentially vaporware with a great marketing angle, and on the other hand, SONDORS could deliver on a truly affordable electric vehicle in the next couple of years. Now whether or not that vehicle could pass all the safety and testing regulations to be sold on the open market it another thing entirely, as is the ability to produce it in quantity at the original target cost and to also support it with parts and service, as is the idea that this company could convince tens of thousands of people to pony up the money for a tiny car that is literally half as big as they're used to driving.
If this vehicle were on the market right now for $10,000, I'd get in line to buy one in a heartbeat. It wouldn't cover our every driving need (mostly because it only has three seats), but it could drastically cut the number of miles put on our gas car, and could slash fuel costs, while also giving us a much cleaner transport option. But it's not on the market, and while the campaign copy reads like a dream car advertisement, SONDORS has a long way to go to actually prove out its concept, assuming it will attract sufficient financial interest from investors. On the plus side, if they pull it off, the initial investment in SONDORS at $12 per share will seem like a steal.
You can find out more about the SONDORS Electric Car project equity crowdfunding campaign at Start Engine.