Having grown up in the muscle car era not to mention having been seriously involved in racing and the automotive service industry all my life I have heard all the arguments some good some bad with regards to fuel crisis, hybrids, electric, pollution, the environment and more. What it all boils down to is people can talk the talk but nobody seems to be willing to walk the walk. But it’s not for lack of trying if the Dutch have their say.
Keep in mind how many times you are on the freeway and looking around the major majority of commuters have but one person in it. The biggest problem it seems is attempting to get more than one person to ride in each vehicle but what if we tried a different approach. Now what if the majority where vehicles were small enough that they used as little fuel as a motorcycle but was still enclosed to allow the comfort of a real car?
When I was in my teens I used to ask why someone couldn’t build a motorcycle that “banked” into the turns and then even put a body on it. Enter the Carver. Carver is a Dutch based company in the business of manufacturing a vehicle that in theory could revolutionize the world. “You steer it like a car, but when cornering it banks like a motorcycle while you feel like you are flying a jetfighter.” At present Carver is selling these amazing three wheelers in Europe, Japan, Russia, New Zealand, The Middle east and Africa. Presently Carver has appointed a dedicated team for the North American market, responsible for the roll out of a nationwide sales and service network because the European-specification model will have to be modified to meet national standards.
Like anything else, the first models to sell here would seem expensive in the beginning and the North American retail price is expected to approximate 48.000 USD for a basic model but at today’s cost of fuel it seems to be a very good trade off not to mention the benefits with regards to pollution. This should not deter sales and history shows us this is the norm in first generation vehicles anyway. Look what they pay for a Prius. I still have to laugh when I remember how much I paid for my first cell phone and now that they almost give them away.
Now if you think the Carver mentality is alone in their vision think again. Volkswagen of California has come up with the GX3 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a completely new type of motorcycle. The GX3 was conceived by the Moonraker team and VWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Design Center in California, exclusively with the U.S. in mind, to bring an exciting idea to a fully functioning concept. With its three wheels and unique design, this Volkswagen opens up a new driving dimension.
Even more affordable than the Carver the GX3 could possibly sell for less than $ 17,000. The GX3 will be driven by a VW 1.6 liter engine. The four-cylinder delivers 92 kW / 125 hp. So far, so good. However, the GX3 is a pure driving machine, a motorcycle with two seats positioned side-by-side. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why you can find 125 hp and 112.5 ft-lbs in a mere 1,257 lbs Volkswagen. This results in a power-to-weight ratio of 10 lbs/hp. In just 5.7 seconds, the GX3 can reach a speed of 62.5 mph (100 km/h) and the possible lateral acceleration reaches 1.25g Ã¢â‚¬â€œ values typical of sheer performance cars but delivered from a vehicle under the $17,000 price range. No comparable sports machine in the world, however, can come even close to the low fuel consumption of the GX3: 46 mpg. Fact is: a production counterpart of the GX3, could be on the market very soon. It all depends on the American driverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s feedback.
When it comes to greener cars, the United States is way behind but American automotive technology and design are catching up in a big way (It’s about time.) and the majority of this technology is coming from where else… Silicon Valley!
Currently one of Silicon Valley’s key investors, Idealab, a software manufacture is helping to make the Aptera (Greek for “wingless”), come to be a reality and now has a working prototype. It has 2.5 seats, three wheels, and only weighs in at 1,500 pounds, and Fambro the owner says his company will put the Aptera into production next October.
But wait… it gets even better… Check this out. It is expected to get 300 mpg with a price tag below $30,000, and 0-60 acceleration of 11 seconds which is a second slower than the Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid).
A new angle to help these projects move along with regards to DOT criteria is to classify them as motorcycles then manufactures can move along with far fewer requirements.
Who needs CAFA? It’s already under our noses and all we have to do is be willing to try something different. Park that SUV at home and take the Trike to work today. Save lots of fuel, thin out traffic congestion and even have some fun doing it. Best part of all everyone wins.