I'm a fan of the Arcimoto FUV (Fun Utility Vehicle), a three-wheeled electric motorcycle being made in Eugene, Oregon that's been in the works for quite a few years. Retail sales are expected to begin by the end of 2018.
Since I've got a low pre-order reservation number, #129 out of a total of about 3,000 (according to the Portland Business Journal story), I've been thinking about what I need in order to feel comfortable buying one of the first Arcimotos.
A test drive, for sure.
But I've watched lots of short videos where people take an Arcimoto for a spin. Invariably they say it's a lot of fun, and I'm sure I'll agree with them. However, these videos show people in a large parking lot, or, if their test drive is on a road, it's on a nice sunny day, and just for a brief period.
What I'm looking for is a long-term review of the Arcimoto by someone who was able to drive the vehicle in various sorts of conditions -- hot, cold, rainy, dry, in town, out of town, on flat ground, on hilly ground -- for at least a couple of weeks, and ideally a couple of months.
This sort of review is what I've been able to read before I've bought any car, motorcycle, or scooter that I've owned. And usually, if not always, the reviews weren't of a brand-new vehicle, and definitely none were of a brand-new vehicle being sold by a brand-new company.
Which is the case with Arcimoto.
So not only is there a risk involved with buying a vehicle that hasn't gotten much real-world driving experience by independent people (this leaves out Arcimoto staff), there's also another risk that early purchasers of an Arcimoto have to consider -- the risk that this start-up company won't survive.
The August 14, 2018 Portland Business Journal story says:
Arcimoto went public in September last year, raising about $19.5 million. Between cash and certificates of deposit, it reported about $7.4 million on hand as of the end of the [second] quarter. The company has sunk $4.3 million into tooling and manufacturing capital expenditures for the FUV factory, with another $500,000 in spending expected.
In an earnings call, President and CEO Mark Frohnmayer said Arcimoto recently produced the first two of 15 planned beta models. The company is using the beta series to dial in the finer points of the vehicle design and its manufacturing process.
So by the time 2019 rolls around, which isn't far off, seemingly Arcimoto cash reserves are going to be pretty low. A lot will ride on early retail sales of a product that isn't yet finalized.
In my view, this makes it important to have some detailed real-world reviews available of an Arcimoto model that is as close as possible to the final product. I'm sure that I'm not alone in wanting this before I fork out somewhere between $12,000 and $18,000, from what I can tell, for an Arcimoto with the extended range battery (about 130 miles) and other options.
It appears that Arcimoto is following in Tesla's footsteps by selling the first Arcimotos at a higher price than the $11,900 base price. Here's another quote from the Portland Business Journal story.
Arcimoto said it expects to have its retail series in production by the end of the year, unchanged from previous announcements. Initial vehicles will be priced higher than the company's target base price of $11,900, Frohnmayer said, before coming into line with that target in late 2019 or early 2020.
Anyway, I hope Arcimoto will seriously consider putting one, or maybe two, of their beta vehicles in the hands of some local journalists in Eugene.
I bet someone from the Register Guard or Eugene Weekly (alternative paper) would be pleased to ride an Arcimoto in the above-mentioned variety of driving conditions, reporting regularly on their experience in a blog post format, then encapsulating their long-term review in a detailed online report.
As mentioned above, I've benefitted a lot from being able to read this sort of review before buying the vehicles I've owned and enjoyed.
For example, I'd like to know about the Arcimoto:
-- How well do the wipers work in a heavy rain?
-- How easy is it to clean the windshield? (polycarbonate, I believe it is)
-- Is the windshield prone to scratching?
-- How are the headlights on a dark rural road? (I live out in the country)
-- Is the estimated remaining battery range accurate?
-- How is the lockable storage? (assume this will be available)
-- Do the heated seats and grips work well in cold weather?
And of course I'd like to know how enjoyable the Arcimoto is to drive on a daily basis, in various conditions.
Since the Arcimoto is an intriguing blend of motorcycle-like and car-like features, it is difficult to extrapolate the Arcimoto driving experience from all the cars I've owned in my 69 years (lots) and the motorcycles/scooters I've owned (two motorcycles, one scooter).
Other people are going to have the same problem imagining how the Arcimoto will be like to drive year-round. Without a full enclosure, the Arcimoto is going to be much less climate-controlled than a car, while more climate-controlled than a motorcycle, given its basic open-air design, but with a full windshield/roof.
I'm curious to know what sort of clothing someone will want to have on when it is 40, 50, or 60 degrees. Again, most of the Arcimoto videos I've seen have been of people driving it on a warm sunny day, not a cold rainy one. Living as I do in Oregon, I'd like to learn what it's like to ride an Arcimoto in less-than-ideal conditions.
Maybe it won't be possible to have some independent long-term reviews available by the time I have to decide whether to order an Arcimoto. I just would like to be able to read some.