The makers of a single-seat, all-electric vehicle are doubling down on the concept that driving alone may be the ultimate in social distancing. At a moment when companies are tightening marketing campaigns and fleeing places like shopping malls, the Canadian makers of the Solo are veering straight into malls and investing big in billboards. They’ve already set up at Westfield Century City in an effort to lure in mall shoppers.
They’re hoping people will embrace this latest eco-friendly mode of transportation, both during and after the pandemic. “It just so happens that it’s a perfect vehicle for COVID even though it wasn’t designed for that purpose,” explains Paul Riviera, CEO of Electra Meccanica, the company that manufactures the microcars. “Most people drive alone. Look in the majority of cars and you’ll see three to four free seats.”
Despite looking something like a motorcycle hybrid, the three-wheeled electric vehicle drives like a car, complete with doors that open on both sides, air conditioning, a backup camera, an integrated row bar, and a seatbelt, and can hit the highway at speeds of 80 mph. Still, it doesn’t have to go through the same kind of strict crash safety testing as vehicles on four wheels.
Angelenos driving along the 405 may notice the brand splashed on prime freeway real estate. Solo is taking over a famous billboard at Santa Monica and Sepulveda boulevards, occupied by late billboard king and fashion designer Bijan for some 30 years. “It’s an iconic sign,” says Riviera. “Two million people pass it every month.”
Electra Meccanica has big plans for additional billboards and retail locations, including at Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, and will also launch robust campaigns in other U.S. cities. The company claims to already have a waiting list, but won’t disclose how many people are currently on it. With delivery expected at the end of 2020, they’re banking on the Solo paving the way for a new type of transportation.
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