Congress Approves DOE Funding for Three-Wheeled Vehicles


Photo via Gas2

Three wheeled vehicles may have just gotten the boost they need to get off of the drawing board and onto US roads: Congress just approved a bill that will allow three wheelers to get funding from the Dept. of Energy. Which means we might be sharing the commuter lane with three-wheelers like the XR3, or the Aptera 2e a lot sooner than anyone thought.Just having got Congressional approval, the bill heads over to await Obama's signature. The president says he plans on signing as soon as possible, which means the last hurdle for three wheeler funding appear to have been cleared. The bill will allow any three wheeled vehicle that can carry two adults and get more than 75 mpg to be eligible for government funding--projects will be approved on a case by case basis.

Lawmakers on the hill celebrated the bill's passage; Automotive News reports:

"This is a huge win for scientific innovation and the environment," said Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., a co-sponsor of the original bill. "We need more innovation and less regulation when it comes to promoting new ways to save energy while saving money at the pump."
And indeed the three-wheelers could save drivers some cash on gas. As Autoblog Green notes, "three-wheeled vehicle platforms have the potential to use less energy to operate than their four-wheeled siblings." Perhaps the biggest obstacle remaining for three-wheelers are the lingering safety concerns. But the prospects are intriguing to say the least.

Elio, a three-wheeled vehicle company now eligible for funding, "plans to start marketing a narrow, gasoline-powered three-wheeler by the spring of 2011" for under $7,500. Aptera, another 3-wheeler company, whose final design rendering of their 2e is pictured above, will be certain to apply for funds as well.


The Silence PT2--now coming to a highway near you?

One thing's for certain--the game has just changed for three-wheeled automakers.

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Tags: Transportation

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