Forsaken: Miniature and Budget-Friendly Electric Vehicles of 2023

Sono SionGerman automaker Sono once led the charge to bring solar panels to electric cars with the five-seater Sono Sion hatchback. No longer an automaker, Sono now focuses on embedding its solar tech into other vehicles. GM, Honda’s affordable EVsGeneral Motors and Honda said in April 2022 that they’d co-develop millions of small and affordable EVs. Months later, it seems the acquirer has yet to restart VanMoof production or resume repairs. On the other handIt’s been a bummer year for fans of small EVs, but all is not lost.

As the year comes to a close, we bid farewell to several potential solutions to the oversized and overpriced electric vehicle (EV) trend. From compact cars to tiny city vehicles, these would-be antidotes failed to make a significant impact. Yet, as we mourn their losses, it’s important to remember that cars are not the only form of efficient transportation. Trains and bikes offer alternative, environmentally friendly options for getting around. Nevertheless, the market continues to favor large, heavy, and expensive electric vehicles, despite their negative impacts on the environment and our wallets.

But let’s take a closer look at the small and affordable EVs that didn’t quite make the cut – the flops, the failures to launch, and the holdouts of North America’s size- and range-obsessed EV market.

ElectraMeccanica Solo

Legally classified as a motorcycle, the ElectraMeccanica Solo boasted one seat, a range of 100 miles, and a price tag of $18,500. Despite its appeal to city dwellers and delivery fleet managers, the three-wheeled vehicle faced a recall in April due to power failures. The company then announced a shift towards manufacturing four-wheeled vehicles, only to later cancel a merger with electric truck maker Tevva. The solo has since been discontinued.

Honda e

The Honda e made a splash with its cute design and city-friendly size when it debuted in Europe and Japan last year. However, with a range of only 100 miles and a price tag of $36,000-$43,000, sales were lackluster. Honda has since announced that it will cease production of the vehicle in January 2024, after failing to expand its market beyond Europe and Japan.

Sono Sion

German automaker Sono had plans to challenge the “bigger is better” mentality by incorporating solar panels into their five-seater Sono Sion hatchback. Priced at $25,000, the vehicle was set to begin production in 2023. However, the company pivoted to selling their solar technology to third-party automakers and laid off 300 workers instead. Sono now focuses on embedding their solar tech into other vehicles.

GM, Honda’s affordable EVs

In April 2022, General Motors and Honda announced plans to co-develop small and affordable EVs for the North American market. These vehicles were expected to have a price tag under $30,000 and be available by 2027. However, by October 2023, the collaboration was scrapped, with little explanation given. This came at a time when GM slowed their transition to EVs and Honda teased their own global EV series.

Mazda MX-30 (U.S.)

The Mazda MX-30, with its range of only 100 miles, was marketed exclusively in California, the state with the most EV infrastructure. However, in July, Mazda announced they would discontinue the MX-30 in the U.S. by the end of 2023. The vehicle will continue to be sold in Japan and the EU.

On the other hand, it’s not all doom and gloom for small EVs. City bike-sharing programs are thriving, with many now offering electric bikes. And as for small electric vehicles, there are still a few holdouts making an impact. Arcimoto continues to produce its three-wheeled EV, while the Fiat 500e is set to come to North America in 2024. Startup Telo Trucks aims to prove that Americans will embrace smaller trucks once again, with a pickup the size of a two-door Mini Cooper in development. And despite initially planning to discontinue the Chevy Bolt, GM has now decided to keep it around, providing a glimmer of hope for the future of smaller and more affordable electric vehicles.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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