Evicted — electric tractor company Solectrac hasn’t made rent in months

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Ideanomics-backed electric farm tractor builders Solectrac offered farmers quiet, clean, and reliable operation with mountains of torque – but the latest news out of California is all bad as the company faces eviction and its dealers abandon the brand.

Despite an injection of cash from Ideanomics in 2021 and seemingly strong demand for electric tractors in 2022, the California-based electric tractor company has seen a downturn in sales recently. That’s led to a money crunch that saw CEO Mani Iyer leave the company and, now, has seen the company formally evicted from its Santa Rosa location, and owing more than $65,000 in back rent.

The news gets worse from there. A number of Solectrac dealers are reportedly cutting ties with the brand after failing to move enough (or, in some cases, any) of the electric tractors.

“I do think the electrification bubble has popped,” one former Solectrac dealer told Rural Lifestyle Dealer. “The model they have — the little 25 horsepower equivalent — is a nice tractor but really about a 75 horsepower tractor is what people look at. It’ll move around a bale of hay, it’ll pull a 15 foot cutter, it’ll do some work. But the subcompact market is a different market, and I just don’t know if that market will pay extra for an electric vehicle or even purchase an electric vehicle.”

25 hp Solectrac electric farm tractor

Solectrac electric tractor production
The e25 electric tractor which will be the primary model to see production in North Carolina; via Solectrac.

The North Bay Business Journal reports that Solectrac left the commercial property by its official eviction date, March 20. The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Civil Division having posted a sign the week prior on the door of the 8,000 sq. ft. R&D center after the building’s owners – mother and son, Barbara and Jeff Smyth – won a judgment in Sonoma County Superior Court that allowed them to take possession of the premises.

“They left a ton of property. We’re nowhere near being able to rent that out,” Jeff Smyth said, listing oil drums as part of the equipment left behind. Adding, “I think they got tied to a corporation and couldn’t keep up.”

Ideanomics reported total revenue for Solectrac in 2022 was almost $11 million, up from $1.8 million in 2021. Net losses for the company in 2022 were also up, however, to $15.2 million from just $1.9 million in 2021.

Electrek’s Take

It’s never good to see an innovative company that’s first to market with an electric product go through troubles like this, but it’s worth noting that not every product is the right product for a given market, regardless of its powertrain. That’s why the Mitsubishi i-MiEV did a fraction of the sales numbers that the Tesla Model Y does: it’s not the product that the market wants, the Tesla is.

Monarch is offering a 70 hp electric tractor. Case has a 65 hp electric Farmall. John Deere’s electric drive motors are even more powerful, with battery-powered versions reportedly coming soon. When they arrive, we’ll see if Solectrac’s troubles because it was an electric tractor, or whether it’s simply the wrong electric tractor.

Until then, you can make your case in the comments.

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