Sondors Electric Car Is Everything The Elio Is Not (w/Video)


My distinguished colleague, Jo Borras, has been a fierce critic of Elio Motors for years and he has every right to be. Elio has promised much but delivered little in the 7 years since it began. Now along comes Storm Sonders who says he is going to build a three wheel electric car that will be sleek, stylish and affordable.

sondors_three wheel electric car

Don’t know who Storm Sonders is? He is the mad genius who brought us the Sondors eBike, a $499 creation that has everything all those other e-bikes have except the price. The Indiegogo funding campaign for the Sondors eBike achieved the second highest funding total in history — $5.2 million.

Now Sondors is on to his next new thing — the Sondors electric car. Like the Elio, it has two wheels in front and one in the rear. But that’s where the similarity ends. According to the company website, “Our mission is to build the most attractive, affordable, and practical electric car ever with a base price starting at $10,000.” Wait, isn’t this precisely what the world has been asking for? An electric car that real people can afford that isn’t orange? The crowd funding campaign has already exceeded its goal by 150%.

“We are creating an electric car that makes sense to the average person. As we did with our electric bike, we’re taking something elitist, over-engineered, and overpriced and turning it into something real, simple to use, and practical. SONDORS is working to be the first real option for an affordable electric car,” says the Sondors website.

The funds raised will be used to build a prototype of the three seat “Model SONDORS.” Once completed, the company intends to offer the car in markets around the world. Here’s the tag line from the website, “The world is filled with useless stuff. Let’s create something useful together.”

The Model SONDORS will be built from aluminum and is intended to be sexy and fast. The company plans to offer customers a choice of three lithium ion batteries giving the car either 50, 100, 200 miles of range. With Sondors, people will only have to pay for the range they need.

There is no doubt the Model SONDORS concept is a good looking car. The front end has hints of the C7 Corvette. From the side it looks a bit like the Corbin Swallow that has now morphed into Electra Meccanica SOLO updated to modern standards. The SOLO retails for just under $16,000 with 100 miles of range. We don’t know if the Model SONDORS with the same range will cost less than that, but it certainly is more pleasing to the eye.

There is a caveat here. Sondors and others were sued in 2015 by the public relations firm that promoted the Sondors eBike. The company claimed it was defrauded by Sondors and the other defendants out of $40,000. That suit has apparently been resolved. Sondors raised over $10 million dollars and has delivered 15,000 of its electric bikes. (Note: The price does not include shipping from Asia where the bikes are manufactured. Final cost including delivery is about $700, which is still cheap for an electric bicycle.)

Check out Storm Sondors’ rather enigmatic video, then decide for yourself whether you want to participate in this latest crowd funding opportunity.

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  • super390

    I don’t think he’s going to build an aluminum car in the United States for only $10,000. If it were that easy a lot more people would have done that with gas engines. You’d pretty much have to have a Ford-sized factory to get economies of scale on the tooling and that means selling in Ford F150-sized numbers.

    If he has to sell in those numbers, he might as well put the 4th wheel on it and subject it to crash testing as a normal car. Then he qualifies for the Federal subsidy for over 200,000 copies, which offsets the costs.

    Otherwise, his best bet is to hook up with the old guys in Britain who knew how to design and build fiberglass monocoques for kit-car companies like Lotus and Marcos. Kind of a lost art. It lets a company operate cheaply with small production runs. It would still be a big jump in refinement over the tube frames and separate plastic bodies that the current 3-wheeler crowd is used to.

    • Steve Hanley

      Sondors is an odd duck, Everybody said he couldn’t make an electric bike for $499, but then he went ahead and did it. Sold 15,000 so far, he says. Bosch is nosing around the electric bike market but at the $2500 price point.

      The thing is, people claimed the Sondors eBike would be crap at that price, but the bicycle magazines actually rate it quite highly. We shall see, eh?

      • Electric bicycles sell like hotcakes here in the Netherlands. They go for 700 to 1500 euro. Those are quality bicycles. Don’t know about the Sondors ones. Why is Bosch thinking in the 2500 USD price range?

      • themodfather

        The Sondors Ebike is $800 including shipping. Plus customs fees, any taxes, etc.

        You used to be able to pay $934 to upgrade to front suspension and larger battery. $934 is still very good for a long-ranged e-bike with front suspension.

  • Pamela

    If Jo thinks the Elio is a scam I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this….

    • I mean … yeah. This should be interesting. The only way they’ll be able to hit that price, IMO, is to go for some kind of NEV status. That said, if they do, a 35MPH neighborhood runabout isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen.

      • Rick Danger

        If NEV limits were 35 MPH nationwide, we could have several good choices by now, but unfortunately, in many states they are limited to 25 MPH 🙁
        At least I can ride my bike on the sidewalk where there are no bike lanes. Get my slow-moving butt out of the way of traffic.

      • BozoerRebbe

        Some folks are so invested in Elio’s failure that they’re willing to praise complete vaporware.

        • fred smith the deplorable

          You may be right. About 30-40% of the Elio stock trades are short sales. Perhaps those people, who are invested in Elio’s failure, are now purchasing Sondors stock.

          Personally, it’s all vaporware to me until the product (vehicles, not stock certificates) is being delivered on the open market.

        • LOL!! Who is invested in Elio’s failure? Like, literally- who makes $ if they go under? Literally no one. That’s not how economies work. Literally millions of Americans stand to profit from manufacturing, shipping, selling, fueling, servicing, and reconditioning the things. Only an idiot would *want* Elio to fail.

  • fred smith the deplorable

    I think the better comparison would be with the ElectraMeccanica Solo. It apparently takes a strange personality to venture into the trike market. Jerry Dean Michael / Mike Corbin / Paul Elio / Jerry Kroll / Storm Sonders all come/came across a bit flakey, but they have had some good ideas. The Arcimoto guys seem to be the only sane ones in the bunch currently, but both the Arcimoto and ElectraMeccanica products seem to be moving forwards.

    As to Sondors vs Elio, at least Sondors has produced and sold SOMETHING. Elio has burnt $100M and hasn’t sold anything but trinkets (bumper stickers, T-shirts, and headphones).

    • Steve Hanley

      “Flakey” is perhaps being kind! : – )

    • Rick Danger

      I must say, I find nothing deplorable about your comment 🙂

    • BozoerRebbe

      Elio’s a longshot but at this point they have a fully engineered, production-ready unibody, and their own engine. That’s where the $93 million has gone. Typically, a new platform for an automaker costs about a billion dollars to develop, and a new engine also costs about $1 billion to engineer as well. Elio’s done that at a fraction of normal costs. Elio did made mistakes by promoting the trike so far out from production but at least they started with a prototype. Sondors wants people to not only put down reservations but also invest in his company before he’s shown even a conceptual diagram of the electric drivetrain. “But Sondors has proven he can manufacture things. Look at his eBike!”. Engineering an electric bicycle and having it contract assembled for you in Asia isn’t the same as designing a motor vehicle that actually meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

      • fred smith the deplorable

        Good points on a good post. I beg to differ with the idea that Elio has anything that is production-ready or fully engineered. They have been claiming for the past 45 months that R&D was complete, and that they were production-ready. There is no evidence that the engine is even remotely ready for prime time, nor close to their claimed specs. They are finally doing something, so that it progress.

        Agreed that Sonders is offering nothing more than a drawing and an idea, but Elio offered little more. A bumper sticker, a t-shirt, and a non-functional show car to go along with their idea. At lease with Sondors, you can write the stock off your taxes if it fails.

        I didn’t mean to imply that building an eBike is equivalent to building a motorcycle/trike, much less a car. Bicycle regs are much less stringent than motorcycle regs, and car regs are far more of a challenge. My only point was that Sondors has at least some track record of producing SOMETHING. It seems at least plausible that his Asian connections are capable of building a vehicle that will meet US motorcyle regulations, as the FMVSS for automobiles should be inapplicable.

        • Steve Hanley

          Well said, sir!

        • Paul Boehme

          Sondors currently has 3x it’s fundraising goal.
          Seems more folks want this product and willing to invest a few $$$ in it. Mee TOO!

  • Anyone seen a picture of the three-passenger layout?..
    Anyway… makes you wonder why Polaris (that makes the three-wheeled Slingshot) and Bombardier BRP (that makes the CanAm Spyder trike) never looked into the possibility of an electric three-wheeler…

  • Gnällgubben

    Dear carmakers,

    Please stop making three-wheelers.

    Thank you.

  • Barkfin

    The offer is for 83,333 shares valued at $12 apiece for a total valuation of $999,996. By the way you have to buy minimum 10 shares ($120). There are already 2,700,000 shares outstanding, presumably worth $32.4 million (Storm owns most/all, I guess).
    Ultimately the crowd pays the $1 million to build a prototype and owns 3% of the company (83,333 ÷ 2,783,333 = 2.9940003%). The valuation is based on nothing except that Storm figures if the crowd pays all the shot for his prototype, they may be entitled to 3% of the value of the resultant company.
    I think his goal was only 1/10 of that, like $100,000 worth. Because anybody can slap a prototype together for $100,000.
    There’s a guy who bought an old Honda Goldwing and about $250 worth of 2″ steel tubing, or so, and welded up a chassis and made himself a 3-wheel Morgan replica over about 12 months or so, totally on the cheap, total cost just over $6,000 of which $2,000 was what it cost for the Honda.
    Well Storm reached his goal, and you absolutely cannot fault the guy for producing something that people are buying.
    Personally I’m not inspired by electric vehicles (yet). I’d rather pedal my own bike, and I’d far far prefer a Honda powerplant to some cheapie Chinese electric drive motor & exploding lithium batteries. That’s not to say the motor isn’t reliable and the lithium batteries have ever caught on fire yet, to my knowledge no they have not, but I’ll take a 2nd hand Honda any day of the week !

  • Barkfin

    If you check alibaba there are plenty of e-bike producers seeking North American distributors. There are plenty of offers of full-blown fat tire bikes for $500 and up, depending on features like power plant, suspension, etc etc.
    I think Sondors is one such distributor and he’s made a killing, apparently.
    I think there are better options out there if you hunt around, and yes I mean the Chinese manufactured machines.