Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Future Of Transportation - Trikes

Now here's an approach I could develop some enthusiasm for, since I already built one myself.
Mine didn't have bodywork, but the thought was similar. This is the Elio, in prototype form. Powered by a 3-cyl gas engine with a 5-speed tranny, auto or stick, it will reportedly deliver 84 MPG and a top speed just over 100 mph.

Bottom like, this is an enclosed motorcycle, suitable for all weather driving, and legal in the carpool lane without adding a passenger. Performance is modest with 0-60 reported to be 9.5 sec. No 1/4 mile numbers yet. this compares to the SmartForTwo which turns in numbers between 10.5 and 20 seconds, depending on whom you talk to.

It seems to be a tube frame dune-buggy-ish construction with the plastic body wrapped around it. This is significantly easier to build than a monocoque unit, especially if you don't have access to an unlimited number of zillion-ton stamping machines.

The vehicle is a good idea depending on how it's marketed. It would sell well as a commuter car to the people who buy the Smart now if the drive train is from a reputable source. Even better would be the addition of a "sport" model with a slightly livelier engine.  Mileage would suffer, but then it is the sport model.

Just a suggestion, but the blue oval company has a 3-cyl, 5-speed drive train that looks like it would serve both the high-milage and the sport market, depending on the state of tune.

It's used in the above street-legal sporty vehicle which is alas, only street legal in Europe due to the U.S. rather stuffy air bag requirements. Bummer, it looks like fun aside from being so low even Miata drivers might have a hard time seeing you. Fully tweaked, the power plant delivers some 202 hp, nearly 3 times the 70 advertised for the Elio. In tamer form it still delivers over 100 hp.  Ford, meet Elio. Elio, meet Ford. Billll, quit drooling.

Here in CO, it's a motorcycle that you can drive year round in the carpool lanes.
 I'm thinking their estimated MSRP of $6800 is way too low. A bare bones cruiser bike in that displacement class costs over $10K from people who make them by the boatload.Still, one can hope.


jed said...

I continue to cogitate idly on the tadpole concept. I usually end of closer to something that looks more like an Ariel Atom than a shrunken Dymaxion. Not sure what I think of the body on that. Probably, in a different color, it wouldn't remind of a grasshopper from some angles. Interesting that the rear wheel is enclosed, but not the fronts.

I've always wondered about the aerodynamics of a couple of big hunks of spinning rubber on your otherwise swoopy-shaped car body. I like to think that sticking a wing in front helps with that, but what do I know? Would it be better to make the front end more like one of the famed Chaparral cars?

Billll said...

I'll be the first to demand a better color. The one pictured is too much like the '71 Maverick I had.

At relatively modest speeds (<150MPH) a pointy nose doesn't buy you much aerodynamically. A rounded front and tapered rear works best. Same with the wheels. Extending the fenders to the rear provides better aerodynamics than covering the whole thing. See the wheel covers on fixed gear airplanes.

No reason not to enclose the front wheels except the complexity of fancy fenders that would need to turn and bounce with the wheels.

jed said...

Took me a bit to remember the Mercedes Bionic, modeled after the boxfish. Hmmm, a corydora would make a nice shape for a vehicle, I think. ;) Of course, I have no experience laying up glass, or dacron and dope, to make those kinds of shapes. Probably not too hard, if you stay away from compound curves.

Aerodynamics is goofy stuff. The story of the kammback on the Shelby Daytona is interesting. And explains, I guess, why you see cars with ass-ends having a truncated configuration. (It's either 'look like a race car' or someone actually wants that airflow.)