Here’s an interesting turn of events. It looks like congress has decided to allow DOE transportation funding to go to three-wheel “cars”. In the past, DOE cash could only go to cars, which, to the government, have four wheels. If you have three or less wheels, you’re a motorcycle and can’t get the funding as easy, if at all.
This resolution has come after months of debate and the bill that will pave the way for three-wheeled vehicle manufacturers like Aptera (that’s the, er, car you see in the picture) to qualify for funding from the Department of Energy. Now that it’s out of the Congress, it’s onto President Obama’s desk, and he’s expected to sign the bill into law in short order.
Rep. Brian Bilbray, a Republican from California who co-sponsored the bill, had this to say, “This is a huge win for scientific innovation and the environment. We need more innovation and less regulation when it comes to promoting new ways to save energy while saving money at the pump.”
Bilbray is right about a few things in there. Three-wheelers are potentially more fuel efficient than vehicles with four (less weight, less rolling resistance, that sort of thing).
What this bill will do is allow any manufacturer of enclosed three-wheeled vehicles that can carry at least two adults while returning at least 75 miles per gallon be eligible for funding, though the DOE will still approve applications on a case-by-case basis.
So, in the case of Aptera, sound sounds like a lead-pipe cinch. The first Aptera will be a pure EV, running on batteries alone. But Aptera has had plans for a while now to produce a series hybrid – essentially a generator charges the batteries, so that way you can get much more range.
These guys from Aptera are serious. I have a friend in the magazine business that got to drive one (don’t worry, he’s a big time gearhead) and he said the fit and finish was outstanding and the thing drove beautifully. The only downside was that people STARE at you all the time. “I felt like Mr. Spock getting out of the damn thing,” he said.
So, something like the Aptera could, if they get the inevitable kinks worked of it, be a very reasonable way to commute.
I wander what it’s like on a twisty road?