Trikes re­turn to the fu­ture

AL­WYN VILJOEN com­pares three- wheeler ex­pec­ta­tions buy­ers have in the U. S. and in the UK

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

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.


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.

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