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I will be going to look at the Elio trike on Sunday in north Seattle at the Northgate Mall. If you go to www.eliomotors.com you may have a date in your area.

This trike on display is a prototype and is running a Geo Metro engine and 5 speed. The local news reporter said it is noisy and not built for short people.
http://www.eliomotors.com
 

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This will take the place of my truck and scooter in two years or less, if it proves to be reliable. Saw it in Dallas ,looks promising.
 

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Hmmm. . . might have to re-think my plans to get a Goldwing sometime in the future.
 

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I'm still wondering how they will get around the helmet issue. Federal law considers a vehicle with three wheels to be a motorcycle. Some states require helmets to be worn when operating motorcycles on public roads. These things are essentially cars not motorcycles and folks that buy cars don't want to wear helmets when driving them. I can see that having a real impact on their ability to sell these in states with mandatory helmet laws. Buy yourself a half helmet and toss it in the back seat for those cross country trips. You may need to put it on when you cross state lines.

For that matter how many folks are going to want to get a motorcycle endorsement to drive what is essentially a car. Or for that matter getting an endorsement for a trike in states that require those on top of the motorcycle endorsement. Another limiting factor on their ability to sell them.

Maybe they will try to get exemptions from those states. However that would take time and money. It would also open them up to legal challenges that these are really cars not motorcycles. That could put them a situation where they will have to meet all the safety, emissions and test standards that cars must meet. Doing that will quickly push up the weight and cost of the vehicle.
 

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They say they have covered all those concerns. Look at there web sight.
I have, it's short on details about how exactly they addressed them.

In answer to the question of if it is a motorcycle or car they say;

According to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) “Motorcycle” means a motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground.” So if it is less than four wheels it is a motorcycle. But what do you see when you look at the Elio? Fully enclosed, power windows, wiper blades, steering wheel, gas and brake pedals … you be the judge.
I didn't see anything about helmets.

In answer to the license requirement they say;

Most states do not require a motorcycle license to operate the vehicle, a regular driver’s license is usually enough. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to be sure.
Those are kind of none committal trust me answers. It obvious they have not gone through trying to get the vehicle classified as a car. I can understand that as the standards for a motorcycle are a lot easier and less costly to meet. But they are glossing over the issues that will generate.

Do a search on license requirements for operating three wheeled vehicles and you will find lots of contrary information to what they say. For example this is from the FAQ section of the Ohio DMV site;

Do I need to take the motorcycle test and get an endorsement to drive my enclosed three-wheel vehicle if it is considered a motorcycle?

Yes. Operators of these vehicles will need to pass the three-wheeled motorcycle skills test and have the three-wheel endorsement added to their Ohio operator's license. Customers that already have a motorcycle endorsement will not need additional testing, as they already qualify to drive a three-wheel vehicle.

Will I need to wear a helmet when driving a three-wheel vehicle?

As the bill currently reads, the operator of a three-wheel vehicle will be required to wear a helmet as a novice and abide by the same laws as an operator on a motorcycle.
This is from the Vermont site;

3-Wheeled Motorcycles: Effective July 1, 2008 operators of 3-wheeled motorcycles will be required to take the motorcycle learner's permit examination and the motorcycle skills test. They will receive the motorcycle endorsement (M) with an restriction card (R-8) restricting them to operation of 3-wheeled motorcycles only.
I looked at a dozen or so DMV sites and saw similar things.
 

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