following appeared June 20, 2008 on AOL News
Purple Electric Car Owned by:
Ohio Backs Fuel-Efficient
Stephen Majors, AP
COLUMBUS, Ohio (June
20) - As the price of gas continues to rise, Ohio is preparing to
welcome fuel-efficient, three-wheeled vehicles onto its roads.
The nascent movement to
promote the small, cheap vehicles, long popular in China and India,
has been stalled in Ohio - albeit unintentionally. Three-wheelers
aren't allowed on the roads because they lack a specific designation:
They don't classify as motorcycles because they lack a saddle, and
they can't be termed automobiles because they don't satisfy state
Gov. Ted Strickland is expected to sign a bill next week
that classifies vehicles that have seats as motorcycles, enabling
three-wheelers to join that group. The new law will take effect in
Gas-powered versions of three-wheelers cost about $10,000
and get roughly 45 miles per gallon. Priced at approximately $35,000
each, the electric versions are more expensive and can run for about
30 miles on a single charge.
Unlike motorcycles, the vehicles have an enclosed cockpit
and can seat up to four people. Under the law, drivers will have to
wear a helmet for the first year and pass a motorcycle skills test.
The electric version, which has a smaller range, is
tailored to commuters, while the gas-powered version is more of an
Calls for a change to the law began with Richard Runyon,
the owner of Dick's Suzuki in Leesburg for 31 years. Runyon ordered
six three-wheeled vehicles from Trifun Inc., a Florida-based company
that manufactures the vehicles in China.
Compared with a motorcycle or a car, the Trifun is a
"super" deal, Runyon said. It can be driven year-round, has
heating and air conditioning, and costs less than most cars and
"It's a savings that Ohio was going to get cheated
out of," Runyon said.
Runyon told State Rep. David Daniels, a Republican from
Greenfield, that the legislative glitch was blocking adoption of the
Trifun recently began production of three-wheelers and
hopes to sell 3,000 vehicles this year, said company President Tighe
"It finally started getting to a point when we were
seeing gas at $2.50 that this started to make sense," Estes said.
"Now that it's at $4, it really makes sense."
The company sells three versions of the three-wheeled
vehicles for about $10,000 each. All three have a top speed of over 60
mph, get roughly 45 miles per gallon and carry about seven gallons of
Trifun hopes to launch an electric version later this
An electric three-wheeled vehicle sold by Myers Motors in
Tallmadge goes for about $35,000. It has a top speed of over 75 mph
and takes about six to eight hours to be fully charged.
Backers of the vehicles are eyeing other parts of Ohio
law they say need changing in order to make them more viable.
With the change, Ohio moves into line with most other
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