Rocket Fuel

Not all three-wheel vehicles are created equal | Elio Momentum v72

So, Just What is an Autocycle?

It often takes time for revolutionary ideas to become groundbreaking realities. To become a reality, an idea needs to be accepted. As strange as it may seem today, the automobile was slow to gain mainstream acceptance. A bank president in Michigan famously said in 1903 that “The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is a novelty – a fad.” Sometimes, even the founders of these revolutionary ideas are hesitant to embrace their inventions. Robert Metcalfe, co-inventor of Ethernet, predicted in 1995 that “the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.” Ultimately, revolutionary ideas often prevail over the significant roadblocks that inevitably await them.

Today, the idea of owning and driving a three-wheel vehicle is becoming increasingly more popular and accepted. So much so that it is beginning to feel like there is an announcement of the planned launch of a new three-wheeler, in one form or another, every month. And why not? Three-wheelers can offer some significant advantages that a car with four wheels simply cannot. While there are many jumping on the three-wheeled bandwagon, Elio Motors has been trailblazing the three-wheel movement.

A vehicle with three-wheels sparks an interesting discussion. Is it a car? Any vehicle with less than four wheels cannot be classified as a car by the federal government. Is it a motorcycle? Motorcycles typically have two wheels, are open-air vehicles, and, by design, offer virtually no safety features.

For many three-wheelers, the similarities end with the number of wheels. Not all three-wheel vehicles are created equally, which can create challenges for states and their legislatures. Elio Motors has been at the forefront of this process and understands its importance.

So, just what is an autocycle? To put it simply, in most states an autocycle is a three-wheel, enclosed vehicle with automotive controls and safety features. An Elioautocycle has a steering wheel, airbags, and anti-lock brakes, as well as stability and traction control. The Elio Motors’ legislative team has made tremendous progress in introducing the autocycle designation as well as providing helmet and motorcycle endorsement exemptions. When we began our journey, only 11 states allowed motorcycle license exemptions for three-wheel vehicles. Today, 41 states have provided exemptions for motorcycle licenses or adopted autocycle definitions. We are making great headway in the remaining states as well.

In 2012, Elio Motors got involved in autocycle legislation after talking with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and realizing it was not something the federal government was addressing at the time. With that knowledge, Elio Motors, with our Government Affairs team, started working with all 50 states to provide safety standards for three-wheel vehicles.

The Governmental Affairs team’s role is to work with states and assist them with the legislative language surrounding the autocycle designation. Safety is one ofElio Motors’ 4 main tenets that drive the project, so we helped with the language regarding airbag protection, 3-point safety restraints, roll cages, and anti-lock brakes. Each state can vary in the language of its autocycle legislation, but the Elio, with our safety management system, is on the high end of safety in each case.

We are still working at the federal level to pass legislation for a federal definition of an autocycle with an emphasis on safety. Elio Motors’ work with Congress has provided language that has resulted in the “Autocycle Safety Act” which is now under consideration by the United States Congress.

Sometimes, having a revolutionary idea doesn’t involve re-inventing the wheel: it involves using the wheels differently. From gearheads to the average commuter, the interest in driving a three-wheel vehicle is becoming more widespread. The progress we have made with autocycle designation not only shows significant legislative progress, but also our commitment to safety with our vehicle and to the entire three-wheel segment.

Share Button