When Quebec-based startup Dubuc Motors first tried to raise money for its new electric supercar, they didn't have luck with venture capitalists. But now they're hoping to become the first equity-crowdfunded electric car company.
Dubuc is running a "testing the waters" campaign on StartEngine, a crowdfunding platform that lets companies run mini-IPOs with unaccredited investors—i.e., the general public—before listing on a stock exchange. If enough people say they're interested in the car, the company will take the next step and offer shares.
It worked for another unconventional car company last year: Elio Motors, a startup with a three-wheeled, ultra-efficient gas car, raised well over the $12.6 million that they needed to start production. Dubuc is hoping for $25 million.
Their car, called the Tomahawk, isn't for everyone. One of the founders, Mike Kakogiannakis, says the customer might be "a rich kid who's looking to show off." The $110,000 car will go from 0 to 60 in about three seconds, have a top speed of 160 mph, and, by the time of production, the designers plan for it to be able to drive 300 miles on a single charge of the electric battery.
There's also room for kids in the back. "If you look at other sport cars, most are two-seaters," says Kakogiannakis. "In the electric market, there's no two-plus-two supercar . . . this is for somebody who's always liked sports cars but put it on the side because it didn't appeal to their family lifestyle."
The company doesn't quite see Tesla as competition, since Dubuc is aiming for a niche market with a type of car that Tesla doesn't make. And if this car succeeds, they plan to stick with niche models in the future. "We don't intend to build a factory that's going to cost $400 million," he says. "We're coming in at a smaller scale."
And they're hoping equity crowdfunding might help them reach that market. "We're one of the first ones to try it out, so we'll see how it goes," he says. "I see it as a moment to spread the gospel of electric cars. Although they're starting to become popular, they still represent only 1% of the global car market . . . there's still a lot of education we need to do."