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Canadian electric vehicle company opening Marin County location

A Vancouver, British Columbia-based company hopes to corner the small-clean-vehicle market by introducing the North Bay in March to its single-occupant electric vehicle called the Solo EV.

ElectraMeccanica, a designer and manufacturer of electric vehicles, plans to expand out west with three new retail locations: The Village at Corte Madera on Redwood Highway, Los Cerritos Center in Orange County and La Encantada in Tucson, Arizona.

The EV company now operates 10 retail locations along the West Coast, including two in the San Francisco Bay Area — San Jose to the south and Walnut Creek to the southeast. Each retail location covering 200 to 400 square feet will be equipped with a purchasing kiosk and a car to showcase.

CEO Paul Rivera told the Business Journal that the British Columbia automaker has already compiled a waiting list of prospective customers — a number kept under wraps. He said the company plans to ship the Solo EVs from a manufacturing plant in China by late spring. ElectraMeccanica aims to open a U.S. assembly plant this year. The location was also undisclosed.

The company’s flagship vehicle comes with three wheels, a rollbar as well as a slate of safety and convenience features such as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a backup camera. It may travel a maximum of 80 mph and sells for $18,500. The one-seat vehicle is specifically designed for running errands around town, but it may operate on the highway.

“Why drive around with an oversized power train,” said Rivera, a 53-year-old engineer, designer and businessman who grew up playing with Matchbox cars. So, running the Canadian-based company that started in 2015 is his “dream job.” He came on board in August 2019.

When the topic of the “T” word comes up in conversations, Rivera shrugs off Tesla as the competition. After all, the electric vehicle giant with a Fremont factory has shown enthusiasm for the Marin County town as well. It already operates a showroom in The Village at Corte Madera and has submitted plans to expand by refurbishing a former dealership location on Casa Buena Drive for a maintenance facility.

The Corte Madera planning department confirmed ElectraMeccanica has submitted its business license to the city for the move into The Village. The two EV companies will also be joined by the Swedish electric vehicle company, Polestar — which has received planning approvals but awaits a building permit.

What sets ElectraMeccanica apart?

“This is completely a different vehicle,” Rivera said, mentioning that the single-occupant rig is also registered as a motorcycle, for starters. “We’re positioned very well.”

Rivera is riding the wave of enthusiasm toward electric vehicles. The Solo EV’s range stands at 100 miles on a level 2 charger in under four hours. Rivera anticipates many owners will use their 110-volt, home-charging stations that can recharge their car batteries overnight.

Rivera even tapped into one of General Motor’s sales executives to help spearhead the efforts of ElectraMeccanica, whose stock trades on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol SOLO.

“My decision to transition to ElectraMeccanica was not one that I took lightly,” said Sydney Dunn, a fleet account manager who recently came on board with the new EV company from GM.

Dunn cited a shared vision with Rivera’s ElectraMeccanica that the majority of a motorist’s time is spent alone in the vehicle and “that EV growth in the U.S. and global economic landscape is imminent,” adding: “There is an absolute need for us, as a country, to transition to carbon neutrality, and the time is now.”

Much of the corporation’s sales team will focus on commercial fleet sales to agencies and companies. With no sales figures behind the goal, Rivera aims to break even by 2023 with $100 million in operational expenses. The first order of business is to build awareness, he indicated.

As part of that effort, ElectraMeccanica will host a “driving tour” in February within five cities including Corte Madera, Scottsdale, Cerritos, Walnut Creek and Portland. The tour encompasses invitation-only test drives that comply with COVID-19 health safety standards.

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