Road Worrier Blog

NC House vote gives legal status to nonexistent ‘autocycle’

Elio Motors

A bill to define a new sort of three-wheeled vehicle called an autocycle zoomed through the House Thursday without dissent – and without any mention that nobody has manufactured an autocycle and nobody can buy one.

It defines an autocycle this way:

“A three-wheeled motorcycle that has a steering wheel, pedals, seat safety belts for each occupant, antilock brakes, air bag protection, completely enclosed seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride, and is otherwise manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles.”

Rep. John Torbett, a Stanley Republican, said that without this change, North Carolina would consider this vehicle a motorcycle – and require its passengers to wear safety helmets unnecessarily.

Torbett’s legislation closely describes a two-passenger vehicle heavily promoted but not yet manufactured by Phoenix-based Elio Motors. He paraphrased Elio’s advertising claims when he extoled its virtues on the House floor:

“It’s an innovative approach to transportation,” Torbett said. “We’re talking about a vehicle that will have the capability of getting 84 miles per gallon at a cost of $6,800. Like the car you have today, a little bit smaller inside, but with three wheels instead of four.”

The Associated Press has reported that Elio needs more than $200 million in additional capital before he can begin manufacturing autocycles. An Elio spokesman said Thursday the company hopes to start production “during the first half of 2016.”

After the 113-0 House vote, the autocycle bill now goes to the Senate.