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3-Wheeled Vehicles

Discussion in 'Cars and Transportation' started by JRP3, Jan 13, 2008.

  1. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I seriously doubt we'll see the big three or any large auto maker in the US coming out with a 3 wheeler, ever. Three wheeler's main advantage is that the DOT sees them as motorcycles so they don't have to meet crash standards.
     
  2. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    So, that makes them suicide vehicles?

    VenuterOne's main advantages are low weight and good aerodynamics. Both are big concerns when designing an EV. That DOT treats them as motorcycles is DOT's problem.

    This is a new class of vehicles that still needs a name. Three wheelers are not all the same.
     
  3. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I'm not saying they are necessarily unsafe, just that their big advantage for small scale vehicle manufacturers is that they don't have to jump through the crash test hoops. My main point this whole time has been that three wheeled vehicles, electric or otherwise, have not and will never be more than a niche vehicle, and that time, money and energy would be better spent improving four wheeled vehicles. There are many more 2 wheeled vehicles in the world than 3 wheelers, yet if all of them were changed to electric it would have little impact on our transportation problems. So, to be quite clear and tie it back into the original topic, I think it would be a waste of Martin's time to work on a 3 wheeled vehicle of any sort.
     
  4. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Can you back up that assertion with any line of reasoning?

    From where I sit, three wheeled vehicles make a lot of sense -- especially when your goal is energy efficiency. As far as I can tell, your objection is that "three wheelers have never been popular, therefore they can never be popular". That's a non sequitur.
     
  5. SByer

    SByer '08 #383

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    It only makes sense if you can sell them. Otherwise the potential improvement to overall market efficiency is tiny. Three-wheeled vehicles are an... interesting... compromise - all the safety of motorcycles, with all the manuverability of cars. Or worse, actually, since their cornering ability is more limited due to center-of-gravity issues.

    The meat of the car market is sedans. You want to change the world, that's where you try and have something to sell. I personally would never buy a three wheeled vehicle, and I doubt that I'm alone in that sentiment.
     
  6. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    #6 WarpedOne, Jan 14, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    You could at least look at links...

     
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #7 TEG, Jan 14, 2008
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    Personally I prefer the "two in front, one in back" like the Silence EV.



    I think that thing handles quite well actually (at least in terms of performance, but no so much for comfort).

    Best aerodynamics usually have a wide front tapering down to the rear.

    Check out the T-Rex handling:
     
  8. mt2

    mt2 Member

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    Well, since this off-topic thread has gone even off-er, I might as well keep it going.

    Regarding designing vehicles with three wheels so they will be classified as a motorcycle and thereby avoid crash testing; The Aptera was designed with three wheels to reduce rolling resistance. The Venture One's history is a little more complex; it is based on Holland's Carver, which started life as a narrow vehicle to navigate European streets. The tilting mechanism Venture licenses from Carver is engineered for three wheels. The fact that they can avoid destroying multiple prototypes is a happy "accident" that allows them to bring the vehicles to market faster. Although, both of the above manufacturers do intend to physically crash test the vehicles because that's whats expected by consumers. In the meantime they are virtually crash testing them, which Martin has pointed out gives all the same data - it just isn't what the DOT requires.

    Okay, the T-Rex is a toy for the rich and unsafe at any speed. No denying that JPR3 is right in regard to some of the three wheelers - probably most. But the other side of that argument is that from Aptera to Zap, there are a lot of three wheelers hitting the market and a lot of people are interested in them. Even our own Tony Belding has expressed interest in an Aptera, if he wasn't already getting a Roadster. Me, I'm seriously considering a Venture One as my daily commuter - so much so that I have my name on the waiting list and am an administrator of the fan club. (Yes, I'm still looking at the WhiteStar as my other ride).

    It won't be overnight, but I seriously believe that safe, clean, fun three wheel vehicles will find a strong place in the US market somewhere between motorcycles and five passenger sedans.
     
  9. mt2

    mt2 Member

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    P.S. About the center of gravity in three wheelers - the big joke over at the Venture Vehicles fan club is, "Why are there no tilting cup holders?"

    I guess you had to be there.
     
  10. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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  11. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    My reasoning is after hundreds of years of evolution in wheeled vehicles, from horse drawn wagons to modern cars, 4 wheels has been found to be the best setup for the majority of powered human transportation needs, and I see nothing that will change that, other than a major collapse of society. In that case we'll all be walking and riding bicycles and horses anyway.
     
  12. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Exactly my point.
     
  13. donauker

    donauker Member

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    Here are just some of the reasons that I believe that three wheelers will only be a niche market for quite a while. I have been an active motorcycle rider for over 20 years.

    Regulatory reasons: (varies state by state)

    Most states require a motorcycle license for three wheelers, thus requiring additional tests. I am not sure if all states offer a license restricted only to three wheelers. If not the test would be on a two wheel cycle.

    At least some states with helmet laws do have exclusions for fully enclosed three wheelers, some may not.

    Other Reasons:

    None tilting three wheelers have significant stability issues on hard cornering.

    Tilting vehicles are very scary to first time riders. I have observed this frequently in my airplane and on my motorcycle.

    Vehicles with only one steering tire are much more susceptible to lose of steering control due to minor unfavorable road conditions. A bit of gravel or small oil spots have taken out many a motorcycle. Certainly a three wheeler will not lay over as easily, but lose of steering when you most need it is very frightening and gravel spots on roads collect at corners and intersections. Ice and snow are an extreme hazard. Even things as small as twigs lying on the road after a windy day will seriously get your attention as they roll easily sideways under a cornering single front tire.

    Probably 95% of the population equate vehicle safety with large SUVs, even small cars are considered almost suicidal. Motorcycles and strange looking three wheelers are only for those with a definite death wish.

    Also in the same line, outside of only a few of the more eco conscious areas of the country anyone seen driving such a strange looking vehicle will be considered to be a lunatic fringe person and not to be taken seriously in anything they do or say.
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Agree with your comments, Don.

    Also, many of the 3 wheelers do lack safety features because they are not required. The perception that they could be dangerous is probably backed up by reality in most cases.
     
  15. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    Four wheels has NOT been found to be the best setup. It's been found to be the most widespread and most popular setup. There is no logical connection demonstrating that the most used solution is the best solution.

    That's like saying most computers use Microsoft Windows, therefore Windows is the best operating system in the world. Just trying telling some programmers that and watch the hysterical laughter that ensues!

    If you believe four wheels is really the "best setup", then all I ask is: How so? Best in what respect? Show your work!
     
  16. tonybelding

    tonybelding Active Member

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    #16 tonybelding, Jan 15, 2008
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2008
    It's a lot easier to change regulations than it is to change the laws of physics. If enough people buy them, there will be pressure to change the regulations.


    Not true. IF that were true, then the T-Rex Lightning wouldn't be able to pull 1.9 G on a skid pad!


    Not relevant. The smart designs, like the T-Rex and the Aptera, all have one drive tire in the rear and two steering tires up front. This design is potentially more stable than a four wheeler on slippery roads, because acceleration is always applied straight through the center axis of the car.


    Probably 95% of the population is wrong about this. But again, it's easier to change attitudes than it is to change the laws of physics.


    It's all a matter of exposure. People can get used to just about anything.
     
  17. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Best in the respect that it is what people want, and there is a built in utility factor in that decision. A three wheeler would have to provide something much better than the accepted 4 wheel design, and it simply cannot. With all the negatives associated with 3 wheelers there is only one solid positive, better mileage, and all things being equal how much better is it really? Build a 4 wheel version of the same vehicle at the same weight and how much efficiency is really lost? Very little I'd bet. Even in Europe where fuel costs are much higher than here 3 wheelers have not taken over the streets.
    Your Windows example proves my point, it's accessible and does what most people want, that's why it caught on. "Better" systems won't sell if they are "weird", harder to use, and don't offer a large, perceived benefit. Linux is gaining support because it's being made to look and act more like Windows.
     
  18. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Not in any state with snow. A single rear wheel drive trying to push 2 front wheels through snow or ice? No thank you.



    Only if there is a compelling reason to do so. You have not shown that reason.
     
  19. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Recall what happened to 3 wheeled ATVs as described here...

    "Safety Issues of 3-Wheel ATVs
    Due to legal battles about the safety issues concerning 3-wheel ATVs during the latter part of the 1980s, and consent decrees, all manufacturers ended the production of these vehicles in 1987, switching to 4-wheel ATVs."
     
  20. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    Having had real world experience on 3 wheeled ATV's it's my belief that the addition of a suspension to the vehicles, especially the front forks, is what made them so dangerous. With the single wheel in front style, turning a 3 wheeler quickly means unloading the inside rear wheel and allowing the vehicle to tip to the outside of the turn. The addition of front shocks allowed the front end to dive under cornering, and hitting the front brakes, and/or a bump would exacerbate that action, often resulting in a quick rollover. The original unsuspended 3 wheelers were much less prone to this.
     

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