Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on November 19th, 2013 at 12:57 pm
Durham, North Carolina-based Organic Transit is currently shopping for office and warehouse space in Portland.
The company is known for their "ELF" solar and pedal-powered vehicle (which stands for Electric, Light and Fun) which they bill as the "most efficient vehicle on the planet." The company is the brainchild of Rob Cotter, a former engineer who worked on racing projects for Porsche, Mercedes Benz and BMW. Cotter then moved into the human-powered vehicle scene in the late 1980s as a race promoter and vice president of the International Human Powered Vehicle Association. As CEO and founder of Organic Transit, Cotter steered his latest invention into a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign last year that raised over $225,000 from 547 backers.
With proof of market validated the company is now at the front end of a major growth curve.
(Photo from Organic Transit Facebook page)
Organic Transit currently makes the ELF in downtown Durham but they're looking to set up regional warehouses for manufacturing, assembly, distribution and sales. With Portland seen as a "key market" for the ELF, Cotter has hired former president of (now defunct) Kinesis USA/Mountain Cycle Michael Nover to set up the local operation. Nover tells BikePortland that the company hasn't found a Portland location yet and they're open to working with partners who might be able to help them fill out a larger manufacturing facility.
ELF production has been going on in Durham since March and Nover says the company has sold a few hundred of the units thus far. The need for regional manufacturing and shipping hubs is due to the relatively high cost of shipping (an average of $1,500 per unit) and the ability to customize builds based on the needs of each market.
The appeal of the ELF, according to the company's marketing materials, is that it offers the perfect blend of benefits between a bicycle and a car. "The spacious interior keeps you out of the elements and in view of other drivers," reads their website. "It’s the perfect vehicle for people who want to reduce their car usage but want more than a pedal bike can offer... Our vehicles are designed to make bike commuting accessible and affordable for everybody."
The ELF ($4,995 base price) fits on bike paths and sidewalks and it's also at-home in standard vehicle lanes. Its 750 watt motor has a 14 mile range and can power up via solar panels or from an electrical outlet. You can also pedal it with 100% human-power. The ELF weighs 150 pounds, can carry 350 pounds of cargo, can go up to 20 mph.
Learn more via the video used in their Kickstarter campaign (pasted below) or read this detailed profile of Organic Transit and Rob Cotter in Indy Week newspaper.
If you'd like to connect with Michael Nover of Organic Transit drop him an email at michael [at] organictransit [dot] com.