Back when we got our first look at Arcimoto’s two-seat three-wheel electric city commuter mobile, it was called SRK and the company was aiming for 2,000 units per year. In the intervening three years, the model’s name has been changed to FUV — which stands for Fun Utility Vehicle — and production expectations have ramped up substantially, to 50,000 annually.
Along with this mass production, Arcimoto needed a solution to deliver all of these vehicles to customers, and today it announced a partnership with DHL to facilitate that. Obviously, without a nationwide dealership network the company has to find other means of getting cars to customers, and the international shipping giant stepped up to the challenge.
The partnership opens a lot of doors for Arcimoto. Its model is similar to Tesla’s in that it sells these compact commuters online direct-to-consumer without a franchised dealership, which is verboten in Texas and Washington. Going to a shipped method instead of pickup from a centralized hub as Tesla does, apparently winds its way through a legal loophole that things like e-bikes and motorcycles have been using for years.
The FUV’s price has also gone up in those few years, now starting at $17,900, but is still the least expensive electric car you can buy in the U.S. by a substantial margin. It’s got 77 horsepower from a pair of motors powering the front wheels, which is good enough for a 75 mph top speed, and a 7.5 second 0-60 time. The trike weighs in at just 1,300 pounds as-shipped, so it should be quite spritely around town.
The company also offers the Deliverator, which is a single-seat FUV with the rear seat replaced by locking cargo hold, perfect for last-mile in-town deliveries or food delivery. There is also a Rapid Responder model for EMS, fire and police to cut through traffic and arrive on scene quicker and easier, getting to places that traditional first responder vehicles can’t go.
Arcimoto is currently delivering vehicles in California, Washington and Oregon from its Eugene, Oregon, facility, and it recently opened a store in Key West, Florida. The DHL deal lets the company roll out deliveries to the lower 48 states next year, with Alaska, Hawaii and international deliveries planned for 2022.
The FUV sounds like a three-wheeled version of Renault’s Twizy, which I truly enjoyed when I sampled it back in 2016. Without a fully-enclosed passenger cabin, this vehicle has a very limited use case, but could provide low-cost, low-impact, green-friendly mobility for a lot of Americans who need it. Will the company find 50,000 people per year to buy these things? We’ll have to wait and see, but I could definitely see huge fleets of these making deliveries in big cities.
The weather doesn’t get too bad where I live, and I’ve been begging for a low-cost EV for ages. I’d love to test drive one — maybe I’ll love it.