MARK FROHMAYER LOVES to drive. But he’s never quite been able to square that passion with his environmental concerns. He just found the idea of using a gas-powered, two-ton contraption to carry a single person a few miles each day absurd. Eight years ago—before the Tesla Roadster hit the market—he decided what he needed was a small electric car that could reliably carry him around his hometown of Eugene, Oregon and was fun to drive. He couldn’t find one, so he decided to design his own.
The strange thing to Frohmayer was that all the technology for building a practical, cheap, and safe electric vehicle were available. But no one had put all of the pieces together, despite the fact the potential market for such a product was huge, given the surging demand for cars in emerging markets like India and China. With Tesla focusing on the luxury market, he saw a big need for an affordable electric vehicle.