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Tech Talk v59 – Autocycle Legislation

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Vitter Legislation Creates Safety Standards for Autocycles

U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-La.) today introduced the Autocycle Safety Act (S. 685), which creates the new classification “autocycle” for enclosed motor vehicles with three wheels. Vitter’s legislation would set standards for autocycles under safety rules and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards. To date, 26 states have enacted or are currently developing classifications for enclosed, three-wheeled vehicles as autocycles at the state level, including Louisiana, as National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations classify three-wheeled vehicles as motorcycles. This requires individual states to determine helmet and motorcycle endorsements for these vehicles. Enacting federal legislation will provide consistency across the country.

Given Vitter’s home state of Louisiana is where the Elio will be manufactured, at a former General Motors facility in Shreveport, La., the state of Louisiana was one of the first to pass a definition of autocycle last year and several other states soon followed. The state legislators took action because they saw the need to address these vehicles differently than the previous classification of motorcycles.

“Creating this recognition for autocycles will ensure their safety, create jobs, and encourage the same entrepreneurial spirit that created motor vehicles and motor cycles,” Vitter said. “This update to an outdated law will also help spur job creation in Louisiana, since Elio Motors has selected Shreveport for their manufacturing plant, and it will also ensure that imported vehicles of similar types will be covered by the same safety standards that domestic manufacturers will follow.”

 

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The legislation provides that autocycle manufacturers must immediately meet certain safety standards until such time as the NHTSA can promulgate final safety regulations covering autocycles.  To be eligible for the new classification of autocycle, the vehicle must qualify as meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)—not limited to, but including most standards for passenger vehicles under 10,000 lbs.  Some of the requirements will be FMVSS for seat belts and seat belt anchors, child restraints, roof crush and meet upper interior impact standards. Autocycles also must have front and side curtain airbag protection.  In addition to numerous safety standards needed for qualification, autocycles must meet FMVSS for motorcycles as well.  The legislation also requires the continued investigation of additional standards appropriate for autocycles, developing additional safety standards for these vehicles.

“Not only will Senator Vitter’s legislation provide consistency across all jurisdictions, but it strongly supports his efforts to bring jobs back to the Shreveport area,” said Elio Motors founder and CEO Paul Elio. “We are thrilled at Senator Vitter’s efforts recognizing the need for a new classification of innovative, ultra-efficient platforms like the Elio.”

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