Electric Cars

The one-seat Solo is the cheapest EV you can buy

The three-wheeled pure electric vehicle can go 100 miles on a single charge and should reach the United States next year.

Christoph Koch

It's tough to find an affordable car these days, let alone an affordable electric vehicle. Canadian company Electra Meccanica is looking to change that scenario with the debut of the Solo. Slated to go on sale in the United States in 2017, the Solo will cost just a skosh over $15,000. With a federal tax credit of $7,500 plus state and local incentives, you could conceivably drive away in an EV for less than $8,000, or $4,000 less than America's cheapest car, the Nissan Versa.

There is a catch, however. The Solo, as per its name, only seats one person.

A quick look at the competition and that single-seater is looking pretty good. The least expensive EV available currently is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, starting at $22,995, and the segment tops out with $100,000 or more for a Tesla Model S.

Where other EVs on the market today manage to look like traditional cars, the Solo looks, well, kind of weird. Like a car from a 1950s sci-fi movie with the backseat smooshed out of it. With two wheels up front and only one in the rear, the Solo is classified as a motorcycle. It's enclosed, but expect to still follow the helmet laws of your state.

The Solo's 16 kWh battery gives the motor 82 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. 0-62 comes in 8 seconds and it is limited to a top speed of 81 miles per hour. However, the manufacturer claims a real top speed of 137 mph. How is that possible with such relatively low power output? Aerospace composite chassis, baby. The Solo tips the scales at only 992 pounds.

Electra Meccanica Solo
Christoph Koch

The driving range of the Solo, provided you DON'T speed racer it around town, hits 100 miles. It can be charged in 3 hours on a 220-volt outlet or 6 hours using a 110-volt.

Creature comforts are few and far between in the cabin. With only 10 cubic feet of cargo space split between the front and rear, pack light. The Solo boasts a backup camera and power windows as well as Bluetooth and a USB port, but that's about it.

Electra Meccanica makes air conditioning optional and the fit and finish looks skewed toward budget, at least in the preproduction vehicle. The final version may get an improved interior.

Oh, and remember what I said about the Solo being classified as a motorcycle? As such, it's not required to have airbags so just keep that in mind as you speed by semi-trucks at 81 miles per hour.

Electra Meccanica doesn't want the Solo to be the only car you own and has priced it as such. It starts at $15,171 and that is before the tax credit of $7,500. You'll have to check with your state for other credits and rebates, but the Solo qualifies for that coveted carpool lane sticker in California.