Arcimoto is a company based in Eugene, Oregon that has been working on the design and production of a three-wheeled electric motorcycle since its founding in November 2007. I plunked down a $100 pre-order deposit in October 2015, so I've got a low reservation number: #129.
I'm still trying to decide whether to buy an Arcimoto. I like the concept -- a fun to drive electric motorcycle with two heated seats, a windshield, seat belts, rollover protection, and other options yet to be revealed by Arcimoto.
But I've got unanswered questions that, hopefully, will be answered by the time I need to decide whether to go ahead with paying an estimated $12,000 to $15,000 for an Arcimoto FUV (Fun Utility Vehicle) with an extended battery, some storage, and at least half doors.
To the company's credit, the FAQs on the Arcimoto web site address most of the questions that concern me. However, so far Arcimoto hasn't provided good answers to those questions.
Here's six excerpts from those FAQs. I've highlighted the as-yet unanswered question or issue in red. My comment on each question or issue is in italics.
(1) What is the top speed, and for how long can the FUV maintain that speed?
The FUV’s top speed is 80 mph. The range is 70 miles with a full charge on the base model and 130 miles with the extended battery model. Driving at a high speed for an extended period will affect the range. We will provide more information on range under varied driving conditions once we have more testing data from the Alpha and Signature Series vehicles.
This is crucial information. I live about seven miles from the Salem, Oregon city limits. I'd be driving into town on a hilly two-lane road at about 45-50 mph. I want to be sure that I'll have enough range with the extended battery to drive around Salem, then get home with enough remaining battery capacity to avoid "range anxiety." Arcimoto needs to provide range estimates at various speeds and temperatures for vehicles with no doors, half doors, and full doors, as this is important information for prospective buyers to know.
(2) Can you drive in extreme cold or hot climates?
Yes. However, we will have better information on vehicle performance in various environmental conditions as we near full-scale production. All models of the FUV will have vent and heat for defrost and cabin comfort. We also plan to offer the option for a complete climate-control system.
Some years ago my wife and I briefly owned a Nissan Leaf with a claimed 130 mile range, if I recall correctly). [UPDATE: no, I didn't recall correctly. Wikipedia says Nissan's 2011 Leaf had a claimed range of 100 miles, but the EPA official range was 73 miles.] During cold weather, like 40 degrees, the range would drop markedly. A friend recently bought a used 2015 Leaf and he told me that the car is only getting about 60-70 miles of range, even though it hadn't been driven very much by the previous owner. [UPDATE: the EPA range for the 2015 Leaf is 75-84 miles.]
As noted above I need to know how many miles the extended battery Arcimoto will go at various temperatures and various speeds. Cars show "in town" and "highway" mileage estimates. Arcimoto needs to provide this information for cold, mild, and hot temperatures.
(3) What is the safety simulation status?
We have a mechanical engineer on staff with several years of experience in automotive safety and crash. The team has redesigned the front and side impact structure, and is working on nonlinear analysis on a variety of safety scenarios, to be backed up by testing.
Being a motorcycle, the Arcimoto lacks air bags. And being so small and light, albeit three-wheeled, it isn't going to fare very well in a collision with a car or truck. I'm OK with this, in part because I rode a Suzuki Burgman 650 maxi-scooter for three years, and survived without any accidents. But being older now, and maybe a bit wiser, I'd like to know how the Arcimoto and driver/passenger will hold up in certain types of crashes: head-on, side impact, rear-ended.
(4) How long does it take to charge the FUV?
Using a 110V outlet, the estimated time for a full charge is 8 hours. Using a 220V outlet, the estimated time is 4 hours. These are estimates that we will update as we continue testing.
We have a Level 2 charger in our carport. But my wife's Chevy Volt is hooked up to it most of the time, so if I got an Arcimoto, likely it would have to be charged outside at 110V. Eight hours would be fine, since I'd only be driving it once a day. But it'd be nice to have firmer charging estimates.
(5) What is the servicing plan?
The optimized design of the FUV will make servicing a very straightforward process, and most replacement parts are off-the-shelf automotive standards. We’ve started to build our service network in key cities, and will continue to expand as our production levels increase. FUV owners will be taken care of throughout the lifetime of your vehicle.
This is a significant concern for me -- how the Arcimoto would be repaired if something goes wrong. Before I'd seriously consider buying one, I'd need to know the name of the local service company here in Salem that would deal with problems. And what are the "key cities" that Arcimoto is building its service network in?
My understanding is that Arcimoto is accepting pre-order reservations from people all over the country, and even in foreign countries. How will servicing be handled for everybody who buys an Arcimoto FUV? I'll address the "lifetime of your vehicle" issue below.
(6) What is the FUV manufacturer’s warranty?
Arcimoto plans to offer a standard 3-year/36,000-mile warranty.
OK, this sounds good. But a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty requires that Arcimoto stay in business for that long. There's a fairly good chance that this won't happen. Arcimoto is a new company with a single new product. The most recent quarterly earnings report (August 2018) showed that Arcimoto lost $2.2 million in the second quarter and had $2.1 million in cash and $5.2 million in short-term investments as of June 30, 2018.
That's about $4 million less than the company had the quarter before. So if sales/revenues don't manifest substantially in 2019, it's easy to see how Arcimoto could go under, absent an influx of outside investment money. The company's stock price isn't particularly encouraging at the moment, being much closer to its 52-week low than the 52-week high. I doubt Arcimoto could guarantee that early purchasers of its FUV would be covered by the warranty no matter what happens to the company. This is just a valid concern for those of us with low pre-order reservation numbers.