With all the research I do to find the best Trikes in the world and what makes them so great I keep coming across BRILLIANT ideas that either went into production and failed or just never got to production. Today I am going to run through FIVE trikes that I believe need to be built.
We continually waste so many resources motoring in cars where we are pushing around upto 2 tons of weight for one person. This is insane. In the western world where most homes have two cars, one of those cars needs to be a trike or something similar to it.
A new species of vehicle could establish itself here which combines everything the modern motorist desires for the perfect driving experience: the fresh-air fun of a convertible, the individuality of a roadster, one to two seats, the performance of a sports car, the comfort of a compact car and – not least – the safety of a passenger car.
The following five cars fit the bill.
Mercedes F300 Trike
1997: F 300 Life-Jet - Cornering dynamics of a motorcycle, safety of a passenger car
This is a Tilting Tadpole Design
Three wheels, two seats and a body that looks like it came out of a Sci-Fi Film – this is what DaimlerChrysler dropped on the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in autumn 1997.
The F 300 Life-Jet offers all the above attributes, and combines them with a further special feature which car drivers have previously lacked: the driving experience and cornering dynamics of a motorcycle. Accordingly this research vehicle reconciles seemingly contradictory characteristics: it is as safe and comfortable as a four-wheeled vehicle but as dynamic as a two-wheeler.
Active Tilt Control (ATC) lies at the heart of the F 300. This computer system is based on the lightning-fast interaction between electronics, hydraulics and mechanics: sensors register the current driving situation and continuously feed the onboard computer with data indicating the yawing and linear speed of the vehicle, the acceleration, the current steering angle and the position of the hydraulic cylinder which steers the front axle. On the basis of this information the computer calculates the necessary angle of body tilt and sends the relevant control signals to the hydraulic system.
The result? The F 300 Life-Jet uses this system to counteract the three wheelers biggest problems, oversteer or at worst totally flipping over. It leans the vehicle into the corner just the way you do on a motorcycle or traditional bicycle.
The centre of gravity is shifted to the inside of the bend, substantially compensating the tendency to overturn and making high cornering speeds possible. The maximum lateral acceleration of the F 300 Life-Jet is 0.9 g – a level normally only reached by experienced motorcyclists. The best part is that the loads of G-force, you the driver, will feel is minimised as it just pushes your bum tighter into the seat. This basically makes the ride similar to flying a jet plane. I suppose that is where the name came from. 🙂
Mercedes chose the 1.6-litre power unit adopted from the A-Class which has an output of 75 kW/102 hp and accelerates the F 300 Life-Jet from standstill to 100 km/h in just 7.7 seconds. The maximum speed is 211 km/h. This innovative three-wheeler therefore achieves the performance levels of much more powerful sports cars and roadsters.
The body is made from aluminium to keep weight down. The two roof sections can be easily removed and stowed in a compartment above the rear wheel, converting the three-wheeled study into an open-top roadster.
Engine & performance:
Capacity: 1598 cc
Power: 102 hp @ 5250 rpm
Torque: 150 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Top speed: 211 km/h
0-100 km/h: 7.7 s
Fuel consumption: 5.3 l @ 100 km/h
Weight: 800 kg
Aptera Electric Trike
The vehicle, something like a cross between a motorcycle and an ultralight single-occupant airplane, garnered tens of millions of dollars of investment, thousands of $500 deposits, innovation awards and cover shots from prestigious publications. The Aptera’s lightweight aerodynamic design, and electric drive, promised hundreds of miles per gallon.
The Aptera 2e is powered by an electric motor that makes 75 kilowatts of power, and that juice is supplied by a lithium-ion battery pack with a capacity of 20 kilowatt-hours.
The company's goal was the lowest drag coefficient (0.15) of any car ever sold. That reduces energy used, which increases range. Solar panels on the roof power the climate-control system, and the two doors scissor open. A long and tapered rear hides the cargo area.
Inside, the cockpit is cramped but livable, and all the basic amenities--air conditioning, radio, cruise control -- are there. The steering wheel--which looks a lot like one out of a Chevrolet Corvette--tilts and telescopes, although the seats are adjusted manually.
Getting the Aptera moving is a simple matter of putting your foot on the brake and pushing the circular gear selector forward into drive. But just because getting the Aptera moving is no different than getting a conventional car launched doesn't mean the driving experience is exactly the same.
The ride is firm but not punishing, and the 2e moves away smartly from a stop. Handling appears to be on the sporty side, with the manual steering providing connection to the road.
The lack of power assist for the steering doesn't go unnoticed. Nor does the small rear window--a rearview camera built into the audio system works even when the car is moving forward, in order to provide some semblance of rear visibility.
The gauge cluster consists of a digital speedometer surrounded by a lighted ring that indicates battery state of charge. Two numbers are listed in percentage, as well: state of charge and regenerative braking.
On each side of the speedometer are open spaces that will eventually display other data.
Despite the presence of A/C and an audio system, the Aptera's cockpit feels more businesslike than luxurious, at least in part to the weight-saving measures.
Aptera says the car can travel up to 100 miles on a charge, with a top speed of 90 mph (our tester was governed to 60 mph). Charging times vary from eight and a half to ten and a half hours on a 110-Volt outlet and from four to six hours on a 220-Volt outlet.
What I loved about this car is the airplane feel about it. The possible $45,000 price tag is steep but I could see people paying it for something so original.
Engine & performance:
Power: 82 hp
Torque: 314 Nm
Top speed: 150 km/h
0-100 km/h: 9 s
Fuel consumption: equivalent of 1.8 litres per 100 km/h
Weight: 820 kg
Corbin Sparrow Trike
Ahead of its time when first conceived in the 90s, the Corbin Sparrow is back. The fully enclosed, electric, single-seat, three-wheel city commuter out of Hollister, California features bizarre golf ball dimpling all over the rear surfaces for superior aerodynamics.
Corbin has learned his lesson from his first Sparrow trike production run, and with a flood of new electric vehicle technology becoming available, he's ready to take a second crack at making a zero-emissions, one-seat, three-wheel commuter.
"With the age of the lithium battery and AC motors, all of a sudden the Sparrow is a great idea again," he says. "The batteries give it so much capacity. So I started again, five years ago in 2011, to design a new car. I wanted all the best technology and the best car design, but I also wanted a non-leveraged business plan. This is free and clear. I have no partners, no loans, no deposits, no investors, no bankers or investment capitalists, no partners in this company at all.
"So I can make all my moves exactly how I want to stay above water. I'm gonna start making cars in 2017, and the first car I sell, some of it will go in a savings account. You can get so excited about your idea that you can let the business plan bury you."
The Sparrow 2 trike is a significant upgrade on the old model. For starters, it's built on a far superior lithium electric powertrain that's being supplied by Richard Hatfield.
"We can use about 400 amps at 144 volts – about 80 horsepower," says Corbin as we head across to the Sparrow production area at the far end of the factory compound. "I'm not after what Richard's doing. What I'm trying to do is make a car that's agile and quick in traffic, and that's good enough."
The front of the Sparrow 2 looks a bit like a narrower, sporty Porsche, but towards the rear of the vehicle, it gets a series of wacky-looking dimple dots like a golf ball. The gold ball size dimples offer better aerodynamics. So we were the first ones to say 'you golf ball the back of the car, then you leave the front smooth, and you can take advantage of the two kinds of air."
Corbin's golf ball dimples, called "turbulators," combine with a tapered rear section to give the Sparrow some very slippery aerodynamics. It uses only slightly more power at 60 mph (96.5 km/h) than Corbin's Zero S electric motorcycle, despite having an extra wheel, full cabin and a lot more weight. Corbin later shows me some fairings for a land-speed bike that he's hoping will prove the value of these turbulators on the salt flats.
Corbin explains that he wants to be very careful about any range figures he quotes.
"About 80 miles (129 km) is the best we can do, but we're gonna advertise 65. When you start saying 100, you're not really getting 100. Richard's working on an improved battery that'll get it up to 20 kWh, and we'll get to 100 (161 km). We're not there yet, but I'd rather sell you on the idea of an extremely reliable 60 or 70, and you don't have to worry too much about the gas pedal or a few hills here and there – 78 percent of America only goes 18 miles (29 km) a day.
The door is a scissor style affair that lifts upwards like a McLaren sports car's, a detail Corbin insisted on as he wants the Sparrow to be able to take advantage of motorcycle parking spots as well as cheaper registration and diamond lane access.
At around US$33,000, (prices haven't yet been finalized), the Sparrow 2 isn't going to be a large volume seller. And that's just fine with Corbin, who's very keen to build this second car business organically.
"Hopefully, I wanna sell the first hundred cars in Northern California," he says, "so this will be the dealership right here. If we have technical problems, we can pick 'em up easy. Of course, electric cars, they're pretty predictable, you don't have a lot of trouble with 'em.
"We don't have big ambitions, because if we have big ambitions to grow fast, we'll go broke again. If I start off making one car a week, I'm happy. Then I'll get to five cars a week. I don't think we'll ever catch up with the demand just in Northern California. I think California will keep us busy for years."
To read the full article by Loz Blain click here https://newatlas.com/corbin-sparrow-2-electric-three-wheeler-dimples/46775/
Engine & performance:
Power: 88 hp
Top speed: 120 km/h
0-100 km/h: 9 s
Fuel consumption equivalent: 1 litre per 100 km/h
Weight: 600 kg
Peugeot Liion Trike
This is the Concept "LiiON" by Sano Cristian, 27 years old from Romania. It is a 3-wheeled concept vehicle, with a single wheel at the back, and it is able to lean from side to side for cornering. The vehicle is powered by an electric motor powered by lithium ion cells (hence the name LiiON) which drives the single rear wheel.
Taking the pleasure of driving to the next level? Easy! Concept Liion was designed to fit everyone’s mood. Sano says, “I used a different design approach by combining car and motorcycle design from start. The main design lines flow from front to end to make the car aerodynamic, fast. The lion which is present in all Peugeot cars can be seen here, too: the front grill is its mouth, the headlights are its eyes, the Peugeot badge suggest a nose, and the motorcycle like rear resembles a lion’s tail.”
Why 3 wheels In A Car?
“It’s not just for the image, the vehicle can lean left and right in corners, It combines the thrill of riding a bike with the stability and safety of a car, allowing Liion to be a very agile cat. Accelerating and breaking fast, giving new challenges to drifters. Leaning also ensures much better comfort when cornering and makes the car appealing to motorcycle riders as well.”
What’s under the hood?
“Well, not really under the hood, but inside the rear wheel an electric motor is placed that moves the car. It is powered by Li-ion (lithium – ion) cells, just like laptops. This technology has been proven to work with cars as well, and it fits Liion perfectly (yes, that’s where the concept name comes from). It is ecological and very practical, since a special recharger for Liion, built to take electricity from a normal power output, can be placed in any garage and recharge the car for the next day fun at the race track. There’s no need for a complex infrastructure before putting Liion on the street.”
“I like the way they look, and I also think that they will be widely used in the future. For example to put an engine inside, or use the outer rim as a rail for electromagnetic propulsion. Wheels can provide a lot of extra space.”
Materials and equipment.
“The lightest materials are always preferred to save power consumption, aluminium – carbon alloys, electrochromic glass to control the amount of light inside the cockpit. For the interior, I would use materials found in sportswear (e.g. memory foams, air cushions, hexalite). For lighting, the choice could be LED lights. The steering wheel should look similar to the Xbox controller. The use of a temperature-changing paint would make Liion lively.”
“An onboard computer controls the car, for optimum performance and power saving. It also calculates the steering and leaning angle necessary at a certain speed, combines this data with algorithms for suspension and then sends signals to a special electromagnetic system, which has a double function in this way (shock absorbing and leaning). Steering is done by small motors near each front wheel, to allow the computer to move them in the perfect position with accurate precision. Leaning can be turned off at any moment, the ground clearance can be changed, and boosts of electricity to the electromagnetic suspension can make Liion jump.”
“I heard that the electromagnetic suspension lowers the feedback to the driver, thus affecting driving pleasure. Then, why not bringing the thrills back by using an advanced force feedback system ? Peugeot and Xbox could develop this together, if it hasn’t been done already. It would provide a great advantage to Liion, because the driving mood could be tuned just like in a video game, allowing the driver to choose somewhere between a “sunday cruise driving mood” that is almost perfectly smooth and noiseless and a “daredevil mood” that could give thrills even to experienced Formula 1 pilots. Then, user moods that can be saved, tuned,improved, maybe transferred from the Xbox console to a car and vice versa… Concept Liion boosts the imagination.”
FVT Ale Trike
FVT Alé, 2008. Fuel Vapor Technologies created a 3 wheeled, tandem seater “sports” car as an entry for the Automotive X-Prize (AXP) that sort to award $10 million to the best performing car to achieve over 100 mpg. The Alé was a hybrid that ran on battery electric power, with a petrol vapor engine to charge and assist when necessary. The vapor drive preheats the petrol, vaporizes it and combines it with ambient air before it enters the cylinders. This expansion of the gas vapor and air mixture allowed the Ale to use less fun overall while maintaining performance.
Three wheels better than 4?
The “alé” features a unique 3-wheeled configuration: 2 in the front, and one in the rear. The front wheels drive and steer the vehicle. This design enables the car to perform at a superb level, particularly in cornering, with the car easily pulling 1.7 g’s in corners during track testing on street tires. The three-wheeled automotive platform also aid in improving fuel efficiency and aerodynamics.
The car’s key innovation's are the fuel vapor system and it's light weight aerodynamic body. This fuel vapor technology (which is in the patent pending process) allows the engine to run on “fuel vapors” rather than liquid fuel. The majority of gas engines today run 14.7:1 – (14.7 parts air to 1 part gasoline). This proprietary fuel vapor system allows the “alé” to run on a ratio of over 20:1 without compromising performance. According to the textbooks, this ratio is impossible, as a standard engine would not start or run on a air/fuel ratio this low.
With a 10 gallon gas tank found on most vehicles, the “alé” can travel from Vancouver BC to San Francisco CA on one tank. Over 15 hours of driving without filling up.
Not only does the “alé” have extreme mileage capabilities, but its performance is outstanding and better than many high-end sports cars. It accelerates from 0-60 in 5 seconds, and will pull over 1.7 g’s in hard corner's on street tires. Brad Zimmerman, head tech for the company stated during testing at the Mission race track, “I drove it hard for 4 solid hours, throwing it into corners, accelerating and braking hard. The car’s performance is spectacular. After all that hard driving, we only went through $10 in gas.”
The “alé” runs on regular gasoline, and easily achieves the level of “super low” emissions with a 30% reduction in CO2. Even more impressive is the fact that all the data to date has been gathered without a catalytic converter.
Engine & performance:
Type: Turbo Charged 1500cc
Power: 180 hp
Top speed: 220 km/h
0-100 km/h: 5 seconds
Well there you have it.
Five of the cars I would love to see in production. Is there a conspiracy going on where these cars don’t make it? Seems pretty weird to me that these wonderful ideas just keep failing, even on a small scale. If you love trikes and want to see them more mainstream then support this page and give it a share. Thanks for reading. Cheers.
Hello, I am Jonathan, a lover of vehicles that spark the imagination, make your blood boil and take you to a place where time stops and the moment is everything. Hence my love of trikes.