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The following appeared June 20, 2008 on  AOL News

Purple Electric Car Owned by:

Ohio Backs Fuel-Efficient 3-Wheelers

 By Stephen Majors, AP
Posted June 20, 2008

    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 safety regulations.

   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 September.

   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 all-purpose vehicle.

   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 motorcycles.

   "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 vehicles.

   Trifun recently began production of three-wheelers and hopes to sell 3,000 vehicles this year, said company President Tighe Estes.

   "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 gas.

   Trifun hopes to launch an electric version later this year.

   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 states.

   For more information, call (561) 750-7000 or visit:

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