The Model Sondors 3-wheeled electric vehicle is the latest automotive startup to take advantage of new rules to raise funds. Sondors is using equity crowdfunding, “where a crowd of accredited and nonaccredited investors alike can invest up to $1 million in an early-stage company,” according to Grant Harvey, who is working with the company on this campaign.
This particular type of crowdfunding came into being as part of the JOBS Act passed in May. It’s different from the Regulation A+ stock offerings that Elio Motors used to raise funds for its gasoline-powered 3-wheeled car. Harvey worked with Elio on that campaign as well; both used the StartEngine capital crowdfunding site. Harvey said that Elio’s campaign “is the largest equity raise via Reg A+ in the country.” Sondors has some experience in successful crowdfunding as well. The company founder, Storm Sondors, previously raised $10 million on IndieGogo for his Sondors eBike.
The Model Sondors EV campaign had a minimum raise of $70,000, which the company raised within a day on StartEngine. The campaign is now halfway to its maximum allotted raise of $1 million with two months of fundraising left. The company plans to have a working prototype complete and ready to unveil within 12 months of the campaign’s closing date, with sales of 120,000 vehicles projected in the first year.
Crowdfunding small cars is an idea that’s spilling over into other countries. Uniti Sweden is using a similar campaign via FundedByMe to raise funds for its little electric car (with four wheels), and it’s 180% funded with more than two weeks left in the campaign.
The Model Sondors aims to provide inexpensive, accessible electric transportation. The car will be available with 50-mile, 100-mile, or 200-mile ranges, with a goal starting price of $10,000. It will also be able to recharge in a normal household outlet, so there’s no need to hire an electrician to install a charging station.
The tough sell isn’t the technology or the price point; it’s likely to be the shape. Sondors and Elio (and Arcimoto) are all putting bets on the three-wheeled design, which has not been a big hit in the past. Does anyone else remember the Dr. Seuss-esque Corbin Sparrow? It’s okay if you don’t; it’s apparently going to be resurrected next year. There are motorcycle-like trikes and recreational vehicles from Polaris and Morgan, but the 3-wheeler has yet to become a popular everyday vehicle. It’s licensed like motorcycles in most states, which lowers the regulatory hurdles required of a new car company. But even Toyota has a 3-wheel concept, so maybe its day will come.