Originally published on CleanTechnica.
By Nicolas Zart
This story is close to home for me in many ways. Finally, one of the best Italian carmaker boutiques of the 60s, InterMeccanica, now Electra Meccanica, is presenting an electric Roadster called the Tofino.
If you’ve never heard of InterMeccanica, that’s because the Italian boutique coach maker and car designer no longer exists today — at least, not as it did in the 60s. This boutique carmaker once produced some of the most beautiful luxury performance cruisers of that era and the early 1970s. Its best-known car was probably the Intermeccanica 1967 Italia, pictured below, which I saw a few times. It was an elegant and sleek car, a perfect representation of its era for those who could afford it. Unfortunately, many of these companies folded during the 1970s. Some were resurrected, as seems to be the case here.
Factoid: Many of these unique cars were called “hybrids.” They had an Italian chassis and design, but sported American engines, usually a Chevy or Ford V8! DeTomasso is probably the most famous example of a “hybrid.”
Although I cover mostly electric vehicles (EV), I grew up with collectible cars. My childhood years were filled with Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, and Maserati from the 1930s, and later 1950s Ferrari and other classics from the 1960s.
The 1960s was a particularly amazing period of automotive engineering and design where the Italians ruled supreme in the exotic highway cruiser world. Their cars had to be solid, go fast, and be drop-dead gorgeous. The difference between a Ferrari and a Maserati then was that the former was for those who wanted to be seen, while the latter was for the more discriminating clientele. InterMeccanica was part of the latter. It produced beautiful, fast, luxurious sedans for your average doctor or lawyer, who just had to fit a briefcase behind the seat and drive off to their lake Como estate on the weekend. La dolce vita!
So, what does this have to do with clean transportation? As an old car enthusiast, I always wondered why we don’t have the best of both worlds — older stunning lines with modern technology? I have a 1974 Alfa Romeo Spider I would love to convert to electricity. It handles like a dream, is fun to drive, and an EV drivetrain would be ideal for Southern California.
InterMeccanica Becomes Electra Meccanica
If InterMeccanica is now gone, Electra Meccanica is showing a stunning electric roadster at the Vancouver Auto Show. The roadster is called the Tofino. The Tofino has subtle hints of some of the greatest Italian cars of the 6os. A hint of Ferrari in the rear, a dash of Alfa Romeo in the lines, a sprinkle of Maserati in the proportion and on paper, it looks as if Electra Meccanica struck the right balance on top of an electric drivetrain.
The Tofino looks promising and its $37,000 estimated price coupled with a 250-mile range using a lightweight aerospace-grade composite chassis look like a winning combination. Electra Meccanica claims the Tofino will reach 125 mph and do the 0 to 60 MPH below 7 seconds.
The Tofino will also be available with a lightweight hardtop. This is interesting because hardtops on a roadster or convertible can ruin the car’s original lines. However, the Tofino manages to integrate an elegant hardtop, as you can see from the pictures.
Will The Electra Meccanica Tofino Happen?
It’s difficult to say if and when it will arrive, but Electra Meccanica hopes to start deliveries by 2019. In the meantime, you can put down a $1,000 reservation on its website if you just can’t wait. I know I can’t.
If you don’t want to wait at all and reassure yourself that Electra Meccanica has enough experience with EVs, you can check out the Solo, a three-wheeled EV the company currently sells (for delivery in 2018). James Ayre has written a couple of stories about it — here’s the latest.
Electra Meccanica’s SOLO EV
The Solo is an attractive and affordable EV solution. The Solo retails for $15,500 and gives you 100 miles of range with a top speed of 82 MPH, and a 0 to 60 MPH time of 8 seconds. The Solo is no slouch, either, with 128 Nm of torque (94 lb. ft.) and an AC synchronous electric motor rated at 82 HP. The lithium-ion battery pack is small enough to be convenient for quick charge times. It’s rated at 16.1 kWh and can be charged with 220 & 110 V, respectively, over 3 hours or 6 hours.
It only weighs 1,380 lbs, with all-wheel disc brakes that rest on 15” aluminum alloy wheels.
You can reserve yours for $250, which, truly won’t break your bank account. Delivery for new reservations is estimated to happen around the first part of 2018.
The InterMeccanica extended family still exists today, one of which is restoring an Italia. If you’re interested in finding more about this fascinating and largely unknown carmaker, the club website is here.
So, why can’t we have it all? I want a stunning 1960s Italian design with a modern electric drivetrain, ideally an electric Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale. But back down to Earth, the Electra Meccanica Tofino hits many of the visual queues I look for in a car. The only reservation I have is that going from a three-wheel vehicle to four-wheel vehicle is a gigantic step. We will keep a close eye on the Electra Meccanica team to see how the Tofino evolves.
Reprinted with permission.