Last month we reported on the financial woes of Arcimoto, the manufacturer of fun and funky-looking 75 mph (120 km/h) three-wheeled electric vehicles. The company was said to be teetering dangerously close to bankruptcy as it quickly sought out additional funding to keep its factory open.
After being forced to pause production and temporarily shutter the Eugene, Oregon-based factory, Arcimoto returned this week with good news! It’s back to business after landing $12M in funding from a quick stock raise at a reduced price.
Flush with that fresh cash from a painful funding round, the lights are back on and Arcimotos FUVs (Fun Utility Vehicles) are expected to begin rolling off the production line as soon as next month.
And the FUVs aren’t just back, they’re better than ever. According to the company, the new models will receive improved steering that enhances maneuverability and handling. The update is expected to reduce steering effort by as much as 40%.
That’s an update that couldn’t come soon enough.
I’ve tested the FUV on several occasions and it’s an awesome ride. But one of the first downsides you notice when you hop in the driver’s seat is just how much muscle is required to steer at low speeds. At higher speeds, it steers just fine. But at lower speeds you’re really forcing that rubber across the asphalt.
You can take a look at my ride video below, where I tried to do a slalom of traffic cones but found that it worked better if I doubled up and aimed for every other cone. I’m normally spotted on electric two-wheelers and so I can confidently say that the FUV – despite its unique charm – certainly isn’t as nimble as most of my rides.
The new update, which sounds like it should give a more power steering feel to the ride, will rollout with the first new models off the assembly line after the factory reopened.
With any luck, this will be a new beginning for the company.
One of the biggest hurdles that Arcimoto has faced so far is simply convincing enough riders to fork over $20K for the funky-looking vehicles. Mass production is said to eventually be capable of dropping the price closer to $12K, but in the meantime the specialized vehicles have proven to be expensive alternatives to traditional electric cars. While there’s certainly some fun differentiators in the design, the open-sided two-seaters lack much of the utility of conventional cars.
But Arcimoto hasn’t only focused on consumers. The company has also targeted commercial customers with a cargo version of the vehicle known as the Deliverator. It swaps the rear seat for a large storage box that can be used for food delivery, parcel service, or a number of other utility tasks.
Top comment by A N
The lack of a fully enclosed cabin is still a deal-breaker for some of us. Their demo video of side-skirts on a rainy Oregon day doesn't account for wind, spray from other vehicles like semis, and a common need to stay warm if you're not young and bold.
Most motorcyclists don't ride in bad weather but this could do it with real doors. There's also basic theft deterrence with full doors. Half doors are too much like a convertible in that regard.
Arcimoto had a prototype with full doors years ago and dropped it for whatever reason. If they were based in a dry desert I could see their half-door mindset more, but cars get stolen everywhere.
Seal off these machines (roll down the windows if you like) and more customers will get interested, seriously! A price around $17k would also be more palatable, and more sales might make that work.
I’m definitely excited to hear that Arcimoto managed to find the funding to stay afloat, and I hope it’s enough to get the company back on its feet.
I think there’s promise here, and that if Arcimoto can survive to reach higher volume production and drop the price to its $12K target, then the company could see a serious increase in demand.
The difference between $12K and $20K is huge, especially for a vehicle that is more of a second car than a first car for most families.
Is it a sensible purchase for most people? Probably not. It’s more of a splurge for eccentric folks right now. But having experienced the FUV and its top-chopped Roadster cousin, I can firmly say that anyone who tries one will enjoy it!
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