The technology scene in Eugene has been exploding in the last couple years and racing ahead is Arcimoto, with DAC Member Jesse Fittipaldi as Vice President. On track to deliver its first cars to consumers this year, Arcimoto is poised to disrupt the idea that electric vehicles are expensive and inaccessible to the everyday consumer.
Did you grow up around here?
I grew up in the Springfield and Eugene area. I have lived here my entire life, except for a small departure to Corvallis for school, engineering and philosophy but I never finished. I spent most of my life in the professional engineering world, then three years ago, I joined Arcimoto.
Why did you join Arcimoto?
I had worked my way up in the engineering world and jumped on board with Arcimoto when I realized I could be working on something that’s meaningful. It has the potential not only to propel me to my own success, but also to solve a real problem in the world with global warming and how we move people around in the world. So I joined them in 2015, coming in at the inception of the product that we are going to market with.
Arcimoto has been in the news a lot lately. Tell us what’s going on.
Yes, we just listed publicly under the ticker FUV, for fun utility vehicle. We are the second company to be headquartered in Eugene to be publicly traded and we will never leave Eugene as a headquarter base. Eugene is perfect. It’s a community that already has the values. We grew up here, I did and Mark (Frohnmeyer) grew up here. The community taught us values that are unique to Eugene and at the core of Arcimoto. I think there are a lot of communities that aspire to be what Eugene has almost always been and it’s a community that’s small enough that we can help shape it to be an example of doing things right.
When will we start seeing SRKs on the streets of Eugene?
Everything will happen here first. We are hosting an open house for our new manufacturing plant on November 11. People can sign up for it on our website www.Arcimoto.com/amp. Location and time has yet to be disclosed but we will be releasing that soon.
Manufacturing will start in the last quarter of this year. We have over 1,800 pre-orders. The pilot fleet will be in Eugene and the first delivered vehicles will be here. There are lots of local preorders, but we have pre-orders in every state and internationally. Most are in Oregon, California, Florida, Texas and New York – it’s very interesting. Maybe it shows that there is more unity in the country than we think there is in the belief that we can fix things as a consumer. I compare it to the organic food story, I remember when buying organic food was difficult to find, but now it’s in every grocery store. That’s because people were buying it from these little specialty stores that were selling it and now every big box store sells organic. I didn’t believe in the consumer power story that’s been preached, but we’ve had enough time to actually see it work. EV (electric vehicle) solar and green power is just another example. People really do want the technology. They want to live their lives better and cleaner. The market just hasn’t delivered reasonably priced things for those types of offerings.
Would you say the car is geared more for everyday use or recreational, fun?
The vehicle is designed for day-to-day, functional use. It will get you to work, it will get you to school, it will get you to the store or the beach to go surfing. Then it’s the belief structure from the consumer that it will do that. A lot of people see it as a fun experience versus a way to get around. That’s fine, some people will buy it for that purpose and then they will realize they are using it more and more for their daily activities, saving energy and saving the planet. So either way that someone comes to the realization that it does that is good for us. As long as people use it.
We had a major marketing change in the story because we used to tell people it was built to solve this problem, but as people got off test drives they would say, “Oh my god that was super fun.” We realized, ok, maybe we should lead with the fun.
When did you join the DAC?
I had been a member several years ago and just rejoined in the last year. I love the DAC because it’s a good facility and a good community. Committing to your health is really important for any type of success. Being healthy is critical to being the person you want to be and having a facility that is inviting and inspiring to go to is important.
Thank you to Jesse Fittipaldi for sharing his story. For more information about Arcimoto, visit www.arcimoto.com. Photos: Athena Delene Photography