The move to electrification is, on its best days, motivated by a desire to reduce harmful carbon emissions and improve the — well, the state of the world, to put it in grand terms. And, sure, switching from diesel to electric fuel will make that 5,000-pound pickup truck greener than it was, but do you really need that two-and-a-half-ton pickup in the first place? The guys at Arcimoto would argue that you don’t — and they believe their FUV is exactly the vehicle you need.
The Arcimoto FUV (for “fun” utility vehicle, natch) is a compact 2-passenger, mostly open-air, 3-wheeler designed to replace those short trips we take every day. Solo trips to the grocery store, to the gym, or — for those of you who still work in offices — commuting back and forth to work. These aren’t all car trips, of course, but they are a lot of car trips, and the FUV is really, really good at making these kinds of quick hops.
Arcimoto FUV at Electrify Expo
What makes the Arcimoto so good at these short trips? The first thing is the Arcimoto platform, upon which all of Arcimoto’s vehicles are based. This is a sturdy T-shaped backbone frame that houses the vehicle’s battery packs, placing the drive motors (there are two) up front, where they power the front wheels. The result is a vehicle that’s impressively steady in a straight line, but which has some unique dynamic handling when it comes to cornering.
That’s a nice way of saying that hard cornering in one of Arcimoto’s FUVs is absolutely terrifying.
It’s Not a Racecar
When you read about the stability that’s built into reverse-trike vehicles like the Arcimoto or others, it’s important to realize what kind of stability that is. These trikes are “stable” in the sense that they won’t fall over on their sides, the way bikes will if you forget to put your feet down at a stop. They are not “stable” in the sense that a Nissan GT-R will corner with flat, determined confidence at high speeds without snap oversteer — and, if you try to corner an Arcimoto like said GT-R, you will feel some very tippy physics warning you against such behavior.
“It’s not a racecar,” explained Jon Miller, head of communications at Arcimoto and my
passenger RIO during my extended test drive of the FUV at Electrify Expo. “But our owners love it.”
Backing off on the corners, treating it more like an ATV than a motorcycle, the Arcimoto goes back from scary to fun. It has a unique, open-air canopy that sort of feels enclosed thanks to the cleverly sculpted windscreen and fairing. I never feel battered by the wind or cold, as I occasionally feel in a Miata or Jeep Wrangler. And, with the open sides, it actually feels roomier than the Miata.
Another place it feels roomier than the Miata is in the back — not the back seat, which is comfortable enough, but the trunk. There’s a surprising amount of room in that visually small space. More than enough for a few grocery or shopping bags. Which, again, is exactly what it was designed for.
Talking to Jon Miller is an interesting experience. He’s a smart guy, sure, but there are lots of smart guys. What makes Jon different from the people I normally talk to in this business is that he’s entirely devoid of pretense. He doesn’t think he’s cooler than the guy next to him at a stoplight because he’s in a Tesla Model S or a Polestar 1 and that guy’s in a Pontiac Vibe or whatever. He doesn’t even really strike me as someone who thinks in those terms.
Instead, Jon seems to see vehicles as tools. “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” is something he might say to you, when he talks about the Arcimoto FUV. The Arcimoto isn’t a hammer. That’s not what it’s for. “In the future, the way we buy and think of cars is going to change,” he says (I’m paraphrasing). “It’s going to be about mobility. You’re going to tap on your phone and tell the app you need to take four people to the airport and a vehicle that’s going to do that will show up. Another time you’ll just be looking to get yourself across town for lunch, and an Arcimoto will show up.”
Historically, Americans have not been big customers of efficiency. People will buy pickups and drive around with empty beds, towing nothing for 350 out of 365 days a year. Americans buy for that small percent use-case, almost always. It’s part of the culture, but Jon and the rest of the team at Arcimoto are betting that that’s going to change. If and when it does, the Arcimoto lineup will be there, ready to solve for 75-80% of all the trips we make.
You can hear more about Jon’s take on the future of emobility in this live episode of the Electrify Expo Podcast featuring yours truly and CleanTech TALK alum Chris Demorro, as we explore the future of Arcimoto’s autonomous drive program, and I still don’t get to ride the Arcimoto Roadster that I have my heart set on. Enjoy!
Right-sizing EVs with Arcimoto
Original content from CleanTechnica.
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