Two roads to an electric future

24 October 2005

Commuter Cars' TangoIt’s interesting to compare the business plans of two US-based electric vehicle start-ups.
One, Commuter Cars, is trying the top-down approach with its Tango two-seat electric car.

  • Stick with the US as the target market.
  • Get a respected UK-based race car maker, Prodrive, to build your first generation cars from carbon-fibre.
  • Sell these top-spec cars to rich people for $85,000 apiece.
  • Use that income to help finance the engineering of later, cheaper models.

The other approach, used by the Reva company behind the G-Wiz, is the polar opposite, with a bottom-up approach.
  • Look beyond the US for markets that suit the short journey/long recharge cycle, such as commuting in congested European cities.
  • Build in India for cheap labour, and choose cheap materials.
  • Price to compete with low-end hatchbacks and emphasise how little time the purchase will take to pay itself back.
  • Aim to build volume by word of mouth, and refine the design as you go.
On the face of it, the bottom-up plan looks the most feasible.
But it would be great if both worked.

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