Update: Texas DMV on Elio's Trike Status

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
update texas dmv on elio s trike status

The Texas DMV has refused to register the new Polaris Slingshot, saying that motorcycles must be ridden from in a saddle, not driven from on a seat. The Slingshot and proposed Elio trike are both being marketed as motorcycles, as three-wheelers do not have to meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for automobiles. Elio has told TTAC that they’re exempt from the Texas standard because their vehicle has an enclosed cab. We asked them if they’ve had discussions with the Texas DMV about their status. Elio’s vice president for governmental affairs, Joel Sheltrown, told me in an email,

Yes.. I confirmed this with TX DMV. Also the helmet and m[otorcycle] license exemption. We qualify in every instance to be registered in TX ..as a motorcycle. We will easily meet their requirements.

Below is a statement Sheltrown forwarded to us that Elio Motors received from Gus Bernal, who is in charge of Title Services Policy and Procedure at the Vehicle Titles and Registration Division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Note, Bernal’s reference to NHTSA certification of meeting FMVSS regulations has to do with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s rules for motorcycles, not those applicable to automobiles.

As promised, below is my follow up e-mail regarding our conversation from yesterday.

I’m responding on behalf of Clint Thompson. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), Vehicle Titles and Registration Division (VTR) administers the title and registration laws for the State of Texas therefore, we can only respond to the questions that pertain to VTR. The questions as stated below pertain to two different State Agencies, the TxDMV (for title and registration) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (for driver license and vehicle safety inspection).

The TxDMV may title and register an Elio vehicle as a “Motorcycle”, if the proper application, fees, and required ownership document (e.g. Manufacturer Certificate of Origin) are submitted to the department. Note: The vehicle must meets FMVSS safety standards (NHTSA certification).

Transportation Code, Sec. 521.001. (6-a), “Motorcycle” includes an enclosed three-wheeled passenger vehicle that:

(A) is designed to operate with three wheels in contact with the ground;

(B) has a minimum unladen weight of 900 lbs.;

(C) has a single, completely enclosed, occupant compartment;

(D) at a minimum, is equipped with:

(i) seats that are certified by the vehicle manufacturer to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 207, 49 C.F.R. Section 571.207;

(ii) a steering wheel used to maneuver the vehicle;

(iii) a propulsion unit located in front of or behind the enclosed occupant compartment;

(iv) a seat belt for each vehicle occupant certified by the manufacturer to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 209, 49 C.F.R. Section 571.209;

(v) a windshield and one or more windshield wipers certified by the manufacturer to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 205, 49 C.F.R. Section 571.205, and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 104, 49 C.F.R. Section 571.104; and

(vi) a vehicle structure certified by the vehicle manufacturer to meet the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 216, 49 C.F.R. Section 571.216; and

(E) is produced by its manufacturer in a minimum quantity of 300 in any calendar year.

In regards to your questions about helmets, driver license endorsements, vehicle safety, road tests, and driving reciprocity, you will need to contact the Texas Department of Public Safety. You may contact Cindy Flores via e-mail at cindy.flores@dps.texas.gov for more information.

Lastly, for information about Texas Manufacturer’s or Dealer’s License, please contact the TxDMV’s Motor Vehicle Division at 1 (888) 368-4689.

Thank you,

Gus Bernal || Title Services Policy and Procedure

Vehicle Titles and Registration Division

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2 of 21 comments
  • Stuki Stuki on Nov 16, 2014

    If 3 wheelers see any kind of popularity in urban settings, at the very minimum the much more laxed emissions regs for bikes versus cars will be repealed. Which will be a bit of a tragedy for motorcycles, actually. Sane people would simply say that all vehicles under 40 inches/1 meter wide and 1100 lbs / 500 kg are single trackers and inherently "different" (they don't take up lane nor parking space and HEAVILY bias accident damage risk towards the operator.) I mean, is a motorized bicycle with training wheels a car now? Of course, sane people have also long since realized governments are always and forever anything but.

  • Tinn-Can Tinn-Can on Nov 17, 2014

    Cool, make the get motorcycle endorsement... That should be funny to watch...

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂