VANCOUVER, B.C. — Jerry Kroll believes driving a conventional automobile will one day be as socially unacceptable as smoking.
He’s doing his bit to bring that day a little closer; the Vancouver entrepreneur’s company, Electra Meccanica, is set to launch its Solo three-wheeled electric commuter vehicle in September.
Kroll is unfazed by the possibility Canadians might balk at paying $19,888 for a single-seat car (thus Solo). Or that less than 7,000 four-wheeled EVs were sold in 2015 out of almost 1.9 million in total vehicle sales in Canada.
“It’s a huge market,” he said in an interview with Automotive News Canada.
“It’s not a niche.”
Kroll said 83 per cent of commuters travel alone in their vehicle on two-way trips of 60 kilometres or less.
“And yet people commute by themselves in big four- and six-passenger vehicles and wonder why there’s so much traffic congestion,” he said.
The Solo has a claimed range of 160 kilometres and a governed top speed of 130 km/h. Although it would be licensed as a motorcycle, Kroll said the 500-kilogram Solo will exceed automotive safety standards through the use of lightweight aerospace composite materials.
Kroll’s commitment to EVs is longstanding. Around 2000 he began importing the Sparrow, a one-seat battery EV, from California. It became a test bed for the Solo.
Kroll spent several years in California where his KleenSpeed Technologies developed “wicked quick” electric race cars.
Returning to Canada, he connected with Henry Reisner of Intermeccanica, which builds custom replicas of the 1950s Porsche 356 and VW Kubelwagens.
They have partnered in Electra Meccanica, which is producing the Solo at Intermeccanica’s suburban Vancouver plant, overseen by Reisner while Kroll woos investors.