Trikes return to the future
ALWYN VILJOEN compares three- wheeler expectations buyers have in the U. S. and in the UK
BRITISH trike builder Morgan launched the electric version of the iconic 3 Wheeler at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
Called the EV3, this trike adds to the Wheels prediction that our children’s children will buy vehicles that are bespoke and handcrafted by the artisan on the corner to fit each whim and fancy of the new owner, even if it is a nostalgic design.
Despite the classic lines of the EV3, Morgan said in a statement the electric trike embraces new technology, delivers responsible driving excitement, all while it “continues to celebrate traditional British craftsmanship”.
Weighing less than 500 kg, the all- electric 3 Wheeler has a range of over 300 km on a battery charge.
Lightweight agility is complemented by performance figures that challenge those of the petrol 3 Wheeler. The 0- 100 km/ h run will take place in less than 10 seconds and the trike has a top speed in excess of 140 km/ h.
Encased within the tubular space frame chassis is a 20- KWh Lithium Battery and a liquid cooled 46- kW motor driving the rear wheel.
The EV3 is the first Morgan vehicle to utilise composite carbon panels in its body construction.
The carbon bonnet, tonneau cover and side pods are made in the UK, and much like the remaining aluminium panels, are hand worked over an ash wood frame.
Taking inspiration from 1930s aero- engine race cars, classic motorcycles and 1950s fantasy automatons, the face of the EV3 is designed to function.
Brass conductive cooling fins encase the batteries and an offcentre tri- bar headlight adds to the overall asymmetry of the design.
The dramatic tail lift once seen on 1930s Morgan 3 Wheeler race cars has been re- introduced, subsequently creating a visually forward stance. This is enhanced with low slung running lights that carry through the cylindrical form of the side pods.
An entirely new dashboard arrangement features a classic “magneto” switch for drive selection, a digital screen, wood, brass and polished aluminium.
The EV3 will go into production in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be priced comparably to the petrol 3 Wheeler.
This launch coincides with an announcement that the Morgan Motor Company will receive government funding towards a £ 6 million ( R132 million) consortium- based project developing future hybrid and full EV Morgan vehicles.
SAFETY RULE WORRIES
In America, Elio Motors founder and CEO Paul Elio is presumably fervently hoping to get a similar million- dollar injection from the U. S. government.
Wheels has reported in the past that the continuous exhortations for the American public to reserve an Elio unit while production is delayed is starting to smell a lot like the Joule electric scheme in South Africa.
Elio last week announced it now plans to sell 100 “pre- production” models, which are to be built at an unspecified date at its former General Motors factory that the company took over in Louisiana.
Those first 100 vehicles will go to “one or more fleet customers”, Elio said in a press release announcing the pre- production run. He said his plan was originally to use the 100 pre- production models only for “internal purposes”.
The group explained the trike missed an earlier production date because Elio had underestimated the amount of time it would take to design and integrate all the sub- systems of the new car, adding most cars take three years for conception to production.
“The result of the delay will be a much more sophisticated design that has already gone through valuable prototype consumer exposure and feedback, resulting in design changes to address consumer desires,” said a company statement on the Internet. Another statement adds: “The Elio’s worth is not just measured in dollars and cents.
“We prefer to measure the Elio by the impact it will have on the lives of everyday Americans because personal transportation isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. And with a targeted base price of just $ 6 800 ( R104 600), Elio will put personal transportation within reach for more Americans than ever before.”
Elio Motors did announce global vehicle company Roush was last week contracted to “help streamline Elio Motors’ vehicle- development process by providing engineering, testing, prototyping and assembly support under one roof”.
But what worries the thousands of people who had reserved their Elio for $ 100 is a safety- rule change proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) in the U. S..
If accepted, the new rule would close the loophole that currently allows the Elio trike to be certified using motorcycle safety standards and the tiny threewheeler would have to pass crash tests designed for big American utes before it will be licensed for road use.
The all- electric Morgan EV3 ( left) goes into production in October and promises an exhilarating ride of over 300 km on a battery charge. The all- American Elio promises to build 100 units for fleet owners sometime this year, and worry about new safety rules proposed in the States.