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Regulations for three-wheeled autocycle now clear in 41 states

By Karen Graham     Aug 1, 2016 in Technology
The autocycle is more than a motorcycle but less than a car, being sort of in between the two modes of transportation. And that description has some states puzzling over how to write the regulations governing their use on highways.
Autocycles typically have two wheels on the front and one in the back. They also have foot pedals, a steering wheel and are sometimes enclosed. Some are designed for fuel efficiency on the highway while others are made for off-road fun.
Medina, Minnesota-based Polaris Industries, one of the manufacturers of the three-wheeled vehicle, has been lobbying states for a number of years to have them legalize the vehicle, differentiating them from motorcycles, according to the Associated Press.
The company contends, and rightly so, this would make it easier for consumers to purchase one without knowing how to ride a motorcycle. Polaris has also lobbied to get states to exempt riders of autocycles from wearing helmets if they are in a vehicle with a hard top.
The Polaris Slingshot
The Polaris Slingshot, starting at around $20,000 is more like an off-road roadster than a car, but it still has the open-air free-wheeling feel of a motorcycle. At 1,800 pounds, the Slingshot has waterproof seats, three-point belts, and forged aluminum roll hoops, a steering wheel and five-speed manual transmission. Oh, and you need to ask for a windshield.
The Polaris Slingshot
The Polaris Slingshot
Polaris Industries
The vehicle's long front hood conceals a GM Ecotec 2.4-liter four-cylinder longitudinally mounted engine that makes 173 horsepower and 166 pound-feet of torque. Car and Driver reports that driving the Slingshot is like driving Mad Max’s Saturn Ion.
Elio Motors autocycle - The Elio
Phoenix-based Elio Motors has been the most vocal lobbyist, even though they have yet to put one of their futuristic-looking vehicles on the road. But their lobbying efforts have paid off big time. In a press release dated July 27, 2016, the company announced that 41 states now provide exemptions for motorcycle licenses or have enacted legislation creating a new class of vehicle – the autocycle.
Elio s soon to be introduced autocycle.
Elio's soon to be introduced autocycle.
Elio Motors
Elio is slated to introduce its 84mpg, single-doored 900-cc Elio (There is no formal name for the vehicle) in 2017. The hard top autocycle fits two people, tandem-style, and weighs just over 1,200 pounds. It comes with an aluminum-block three-cylinder SOHC gasoline engine that can get 55 hp and 55 lb.-ft of torque routed through its five-speed Aisin manual or automatic transmission.
Elio's autocycle sales pitch sounds more like an advertisement for a well-appointed car. The Elio comes equipped with traction control, stability control, ABS and three airbags. The eight-gallon tank, based on 84mpg would give the vehicle a range of 672 miles. The price: $6800 to start, including a stereo, cruise control and air conditioning. The company claims to already have 56,000 preorders.
More about autocycle, state regulations, classification, Maryland, Polaris industries
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