While automakers are attempting to adapt a 20th century technology to the new millennium, other people are working on smaller, more efficient alternatives to the traditional car. The Human Electric Vehicle combines elements of a bicycle, hybrid, and a fiberglass canoe with a top speed of 100 MPH.
The brainchild of Minnesota-based designer Lyon Smith, and built with help from CEO Rich Kronfield, the Human Electric Vehicle offers a smaller, more efficient alternative to the traditional car. The HEV uses regenerative braking and pedal power to provide up to 75 miles of driving per charge, and the pedal assist system allows the HEV to go up to 100 MPH. A small number of solar panels provide a trickle charge of power to this wacky ride.
The first concept is on the road in working order, and because it has just three wheels, it qualifies as a motorcycle. The pedals send power to an electric motor which moves the 700-pound vehicle forward, with the canoe company-built carbon fiber body helping keep weight down, allowing for that high top speed and Leaf-like driving range. A tablet computer provides all the important driving information, such as speed and remaining range.
The renewed interest in three-wheel vehicles may be a glimmer of hope for companies like Elio Motors and HEV, which want to change the way Americans get to work. While there is certainly a subset of drivers ready to ditch four wheels for three, adding in pedaling as well may be asking too much of the McDonalds crowd.