Where is my Nimbus EV?
One year after placing my deposit and the future is still unclear
It's hard to believe but it's now been over a year since I put down a deposit to purchase the Nimbus EV. I thought it was time to give an update on the Nimbus specifically but also the autocycle/enclosed e-bike/kind of a car but not quite a car industry as a whole.
If you're not familiar with the Nimbus, I'll give you a little background. Over the past few years, it has been marketed as a revolutionary transportation solution. It has three wheels (two in the front, one in the back) and pretty much defies the modern vehicular classifications in the United States. It is fully electric and gives many of the comforts of a car with the convenience and fun of a motorcycle.
But it doesn't really matter how you classify it if the product never comes to fruition.
Alas, after placing a deposit and being added as #1387 on the purchase list, not much has changed in the span of a year. As I look back at my communications with the folks at Nimbus, it has been very quiet. Since placing my deposit on November 28, 2022, I have exactly four emails from them. Two generic holiday marketing messages from last December (unnecessary as I already agreed to purchase one), a request to vote for them as "Best New EV" in January, and finally a cryptic text-only e-mail from August giving a superficial update and assuring me that the company was still in existence.
Obviously, this didn't instill a lot of confidence for someone who was an eager early adopter of this nascent technology.
So what's going on here?
I should say that I'm not at all writing this to slam the fine (I think?) folks at Nimbus. I didn't expect this futuristic electric mobility pod to just magically show up on my doorstep exactly when they claimed it would. I knew I was in for a journey and there was a very real chance that the product would never come to fruition.
My deposit was a mere $100. We're not talking about a large sum of money, it's more of a goodwill gesture of interest rather than a binding percentage of the final purchase price. That final price was also promised at just under $10,000 for the baseline Model One or closer to $14,000 for the upgraded Model One S. The Model One S was the version that I chose to purchase, but I'd happily take the lesser model if it came down to it.
The lack of communication is a problem. The first Model Ones were expected to ship in Q4 of 2023. That window is basically closed at this point and I've seen no videos or even grainy bigfoot-style photos that prove that more than a handful of prototypes exist. The marketing blitz has clearly dried up. There have been no mentions on the tech blogs or test rides with local news channels. I heard not a whisper of Nimbus at the Micromobility America conference last month where similar companies were promoting their products.
I’m not losing hope
I don't want to speculate too much. There are a million things that could hold up a project like the Nimbus. My best guess is that they hit some fundraising snags. I believe they were still in search of a place to manufacture the Nimbus last year, I'd bet they haven't found a solution. The company is based in Michigan and I assume looked into domestic manufacturing that probably wasn't viable. I'm sure it's incredibly difficult to find a production partner that can build such a unique vehicle at scale.
Having said all that. I haven't totally given up hope. That message from August claimed that "progress has been slower than we'd like" and "our current best estimate for when we can deliver the first vehicles to customers will be sometime in 2024". So I'll sit and wait and re-watch some of the whacky test ride videos. Because what choice do I have?
Yep, there aren't too many other options in the space right now. Small electric cars are still a novelty in the US, so the idea of an autocycle or velomobile type of thing is still very foreign. E-bikes are certainly having a moment of popularity in the US so I'm hoping that can transfer into other EVs that aren't quite bikes or cars.
What other options are there?
Who's still close to bringing a viable product to the market? It's hard to say. I recently came across a youtube video that showcased some of the top microcar/velomobile designs from two years ago. And nearly all of the companies have disappeared or pivoted to something else.
Arcimoto is arguably still at the top of the segment and they've had bankruptcy scares while trying to penetrate the very persnickety US market. They still feel like a fun toy for retirees seeking adventure in Sun Belt states rather than a properly enclosed urban/suburban microcar. It seems odd that they haven’t made progress on offering real doors and they also make it very clear that the backseat is not meant for children. It’s also pretty darn expensive for what it is. $19,000 to start, $22,400 with “West Coast Doors” that still aren’t fully enclosed. But hey, they have a viable product that is actually shipping so good for them!
Maybe the other company who is closest to selling an actual product would be ENVO. Their Veemo covered e-bike contraption is very real as I had the chance to see one in person at Micromobility America. Of course, it's really more of a bike than a car with a top speed of 20mph while not being fully enclosed. I was told that they hope to ship product by April of next year, but who knows if that will happen? If they can hit their goal of selling for less than $6,000 USD, they could have a winner on their hands. With many cargo bikes topping that price, it could be a compelling alternative that protects you from rain while hauling cargo and potentially a child in a rear bike seat.
In addition to their bike option, they just recently announced another new “Utility Personal Transporter” platform that offers a microcar style enclosure. It’s a flexible solution that should be applauded but it’s basically a powerful electric scooter or golf cart at best. A 30mph top speed is good for plenty of use cases, but it doesn't match the promise of weaving between freeway traffic like we were promised with the Nimbus One S.
Sure, part of me is a little discouraged by the lack of movement in the past year in this segment. I wish we could fast track some of these vehicles in an emergency effort to get people out of their far-too-large fossil fuel burning cars. Vehicles like the Nimbus will be very appealing for a lot of environmentally focused commuters, but they're also just plain fun. I'm all for adding more fun and unique vehicles to our roadways no matter how you want to classify them. I know we'll get there eventually, but until then we'll all have to be patient as the future of mobility comes into focus.
Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next week!
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