It's been almost a year since I wrote my last blog post about the Arcimoto FUV, a three-wheeled electric motorcycle that has some of the attributes of a car (notably, a roof). All of my Arcimoto posts, including this one, can be found here.
In February 2019 I laid out the reasons I wasn't getting a FUV (Fun Utility Vehicle) in "Why I'm not buying one of the first 100 Arcimoto FUVs."
The reasons were:
(1) My wife hates the idea of me buying one.
(2) No compelling reason to buy a FUV.
(3) I can buy a FUV later.
(4) The maximum range has dropped.
(5) Lack of long-term reviews.
(6) Questions remain unanswered.
(I explain each of them in the above-linked blog post.)
I'm still interested in Arcimoto, though. Ive been reading most of the posts, and some of the comments, on the Arcimoto FUV Club Facebook page.
So here's an update on my thinking about the FUV.
What seems to be happening is that the early adopters eager to buy one of the first production Evergreen models are men, mostly, who are mechanically-inclined and willing to put up with considerable trouble and expense.
For example, there's been considerable discussion about the best way to transport a FUV -- from the Eugene factory where they're built back home (the FUV only has a city range of about 100 miles, so you're not going to get very far at highway speeds), and/or afterward, in part because so far as I can tell, Arcimoto doesn't have a local servicing network, thus necessitating return of an FUV to the factory for upgrades, repairs, and such.
Tesla doesn't have dealers either. But I've been told by Tesla owners that if you need servicing or a repair, Tesla sends out a mobile unit that checks out the problem at your home.
Since Arcimoto is charging $1,000 to deliver a FUV, it makes sense that initial buyers on the West Coast are looking for ways to transport their FUV themselves.
However, I'm skeptical that large numbers of people are going to be willing to buy a vehicle that isn't sold through a local dealer, has a hefty delivery charge, can't be serviced in most locations, and costs about $20,000 with no federal electric vehicle tax credit. This skepticism affected my decision not to buy a FUV, because there's a big risk in being one of the first to purchase a vehicle with no long-term track record.
The January 2020 issue of Consumer Reports had a cautionary story, "Why It Pays to Wait" about the reliability of new or newly-redesigned vehicles. Here's how it starts out.
For car lovers, a dealership showroom can evoke that proverbial "kid in a candy store" feeling, as you ogle the high-sheen brand-new models, dripping with cutting-edge technology. Not to be a buzzkill, but we're here to advise you to resist, and instead consider a model that's several years into its redesign life.
Why? CR proprietary analysis shows that vehicles tend to be most reliable by the final year of any particular model run (typically five to seven years), after many of the bugs have been worked out, and least reliable in the first year of a redesign, when freshly configured and often touted as "all new."
"It's tempting to want to be the first on your block to have the newest car, but that comes with reliability risks," says Jake Fisher, CR's senior director of auto testing. "Being patient can save you from years of frustration."
Thus those who buy one of the first Arcimoto FUVs should be aware that they're taking on a significant reliability risk. Indeed, on the FUV Club Facebook page I've read several accounts of people who drove off in their new FUV and almost instantly encountered a significant mechanical problem.
I understand that this is the price some are willing to pay to be, as Consumer Reports said, the first on their block (or indeed, city) to have a FUV. I'm just saying that most people, which definitely includes me, want a reliable vehicle, even it it means not having a brand-new model.
Lastly, while I admire Arcimoto's commitment to making an electric vehicle, and thereby reducing carbon emissions, I haven't found any reason to back away from what I wrote about the FUV in the "No compelling reason to buy a FUV" part of my above-mentioned 2019 post.
I'm always looking for more fun. Though I haven't driven a FUV yet, I'm sure it's fun to zip around in. However, so is my VW GTI. And it is much more practical than a FUV.
I can go grocery shopping in the GTI and lock my car when I go from store to store. I can take our dog along. If it rains, I don't get wet. If it snows, I don't get cold. The FUV lacks the fun-factor of a motorcycle, while also lacking the features that make my GTI both considerably safer and more useable, given my daily transportation needs.
So I continue to see the Arcimoto FUV as a niche vehicle that will appeal to only a small number of people: those who live in cities; are OK with a limited electric range; have another vehicle for practical purposes like grocery shopping, carrying children around, and such; and possess enough mechanical ability to do their own maintenance and repairs.
That said, I'd be overjoyed if, a few years from now, I re-read this post and say to myself, "Wow, I sure was wrong," because I'd like to see the FUV become a big success. It just isn't right for me in its current incarnation.
Someone had to be the first one on the moon.
Posted by: Ernest | January 12, 2020 at 03:11 PM