It's Official: Three-Wheelers Are Cars Too. For Subsidy Purposes.

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
it s official three wheelers are cars too for subsidy purposes

Congress has passed legislation qualifying three-wheeled vehicles for federal subsidies by classifying them as advanced technology vehicles. According to Automotive News [sub], the legislation has passed the House and Senate and should be signed by President Obama by week’s end. The classification is crucial for firms like Aptera to secure the federal Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program funds that have been critical for firms like Tesla, GM and Ford. Aptera has asked for $75m, but efforts to include the three-wheelers like Aptera’s 2e have been criticized by GM, which is waiting on $10b in Department of ATVM funding. So, on the one-hand you have self-interested, tax money-bloated firms like GM who want the money for themselves, and cottage industry EV freaks who call their three-wheeled designs “innovative.” But not only are three wheeled designs far from unique (they tend to show up in every major recession), they also aren’t cars. If the Feds are going to give money to to the makers of three-wheelers, which have to be licensed as motorcycles, they should have to allow electric motorcycle firms like Brammo and Zero to apply as well. After all, a $10k motorcycle isn’t any less ridiculous than a $45k Volt or a $40k Aptera.

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  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Oct 20, 2009

    One thing the Aptera has going for it, is that it is constructed logically for a three-wheeler. Two wheels in front to stabilize it on corners, one in the rear. Unlike the infamous "plastic coffin" Reliants (as nicknamed by the Bobbies, apparently)

  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Oct 20, 2009


    Many large Motorcycles are not actually not very efficient. Some 1000lb motorcycle with a 120hp 1200cc V twin only gets 40 mpg. Probably because most of them are old technology and don’t use fuel injection , MAFs or oxygen sensors. Which thousand-pound motorcycles are you talking about? The largest production motorcycle I can think of is the Triumph Rocket III that tips the scale at around 700lb and has a 2300cc 3 cyl water cooled motor. It has been fuel injected (using MAF, oxygen sensors and the usual computer) since it was introduced in 2005. Furthermore, almost all modern bikes are EFI. The only motorcycle I can think of that is around 1,000 lb is the Boss Hoss, which is a custom built motorcycle that uses either a 350 or 500 cubic inch Chevy V-8 motor and a two-speed automatic transmission. Those things are heavy pigs but are only produced in very small numbers (for exorbitant prices.) Most big V-twin bikes in the 1200 - 2000cc range (which includes nearly all Harleys) weigh between 650 and 800 lbs, depending on how much crap they have on them (fairings, saddle bags, trunk, etc.) And Edward, as to a $10k bike being "ridiculous" I can only assume you haven't shopped for motorcycles lately. $10k is the starting point for many of the "boutique brands" like Harley, BMW, Triumph, Ducati, etc. and even the "big 4" Japanese companies will hit you for around that much for their more popular sport bikes. The big touring and sport touring bikes like the Gold Wing can easily hit $15k.
  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Oct 20, 2009

    He's talking about a Spagthorpe Pitbull... LOL!

  • KarenRei KarenRei on Oct 20, 2009

    To correct some misconceptions here. 1) Just because an automaker now qualifies for the program doesn't mean that they will receive the funds. This just means that they can't be excluded simply because they're three wheelers; there still will be DOE review of the application. Which only makes sense. That said, I think it's very likely Aptera will receive the funds. As for Zap!? Sure, just as soon as someone genetically engineers a flying pig.... 2) Aptera is not "$40k", just like the Volt is not "$45k". The author of this post, in addition to trying to deride three wheelers by posting a picture of a Reliant Robin, deliberately choose the highest prices they could find. The price for the Aptera 2-series is "$25-$40k", depending on "powertrain and options". The three powertrains, in order of expected price, are 2g (gasoline), 2e (electric), and 2h (plug-in hybrid). So it'll only be $40k if you buy a fully optioned out, leather-interior, etc Aptera 2h. I'd expect the Aptera 2e to start around $30k.