Triac Electric Car - Three Wheels, 100 Miles And $25,000

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Green Vehicles Triac electric car

Green Vehicles Triac electric car

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With the focus naturally going towards some of the big electric car launches we've had this year or established players like Tesla Motors, it's all too easy to forget that there are a wealth of smaller companies out there producing their own, unique take on electric transport.

One such company is Green Vehicles of Salinas, California. Their creation, the Triac, is a slimline three-wheeled vehicle which company president Mike Ryan says has an honest 100-mile range.

Why an 'honest' range? "There has been a tendency in some cases for folks to overestimate their range by calculating it in an advantageous situation, say, 30 mph on a flat surface with no stops," reasons Ryan. "'Honest' means this is what drivers will actually experience driving it around." The batteries themselves are of the lithium-ion type, and are made by Leyden Energy in Fremont. Leyden claim the battery can operate at up to 140 degrees Farenheit without degradation of the cells. Additional cooling is therefore not required, helping to keep complexity and weight down.

We always like to advise our readers that a manufacturer's quoted range is more often than not a best-case scenario rather than the norm, so it's refreshing to see a genuinely attainable figure. This is no doubt testament to the light weight (only 2,000 pounds) and relatively slim stature of the vehicle. There's little word on performance, though the Triac has a 20 kilowatt electric motor and can apparently hit 80mph on the freeway, so it's certainly not a neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV). There's even a "288 volt performance package" available for $3,800, with a 30 kW motor for even more performance.

The range isn't the only genuinely attainable aspect. $25,000 still seems a lot by the standards of regular production cars, but compared to other electric vehicles it's fairly inexpensive, and sold in its local California the Triac might even be eligible for the potential $5,000 rebate towards EVs, as well as up to $7,500 in federal tax credits. If you qualify, a Triac could be yours for as little as $12,500, or about the price of a Chevy Aveo, or a base-spec smart fortwo.

You shouldn't expect to be able to match the features of those vehicles though. Mike Ryan admits the Triac is designed as a less costly vehicle for an environmentally conscious lifestyle. It's not out to win awards for its styling or performance, but as one of the cheapest ways into EV ownership without treading the minefield of home-conversions it's a good start.

There's no word yet on how the Triac is being classified, but as a small three-wheeler it's likely to be registered as a motorcycle. That said, Green Vehicles say the Triac meets all Federally Mandated Vehicle Safety Standards. The vehicle also has a relatively low center of gravity, so usual three-wheel stability issues should be kept to a minimum.

What the Triac will have in common with more expensive regular EVs though is a system of connecting your digital devices with the car. Drivers will be able to plug their device into a special slot and control their itinerary, listen to a business briefing or even just listen to podcasts on the way to work. Green Vehicles is also constructing a website that tracks the company's greenhouse gas emissions and waste, giving customers a holistic view of the company and their green credentials.

The car will also include a Vehicle Efficiency Data Assistant, which records the owner's driving habit and commute patterns, allowing accurate range predictions to be displayed to the driver.
As ever, we'd like to stress that vehicles like the Triac shouldn't really be compared with more expensive production models, as in some areas they can't stack up to products produced through millions of dollars of research and development. However, Paul Scott from Plug In America reckons that "the market is quite robust" for lightweight commuter EVs like the Triac. The efficiency and low cost of the Triac should work strongly in its favour against rivals such as Think's City EV, which offers similar figures but at a higher cost.

There's no set date for sales as yet, but Green Vehicles expect to begin production at the end of 2011, at a rate of 2,000 vehicles per year.

[Mercury News Automotive]

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Comments (15)
  1. "degredation" perhaps "degradation:"

  2. "neigborhood" perhaps "neighborhood"

  3. Thanks John ;) Now corrected. Since my spellchecker doesn't function it's reassuring to know the readership can do it for me!

  4. At least one customer has had a traic for about a year now. Might be an interesting interview. :)

  5. Antony,
    Yep good tools are sometimes hard to find. Nice to know that the Triac hasn't been lost in the LEAF/VOLT press.
    John C. Briggs

  6. @John -- "At least one customer has had a traic for about a year now." Shouldn't that be "Triac," both spelled properly and capitalized as it's a proper noun?

  7. As long as we don't let our minds drift to collisions with trucks on the roads, this little mighty-mite might just satisfy some of our all-electric automotive needs, eh?

  8. I disagree with the whole concept of 3 wheel cars. It is just a loop hole allowing unsafe cars on the road because they are classified as motorcycles. The laws for defining a motorcycle should not be the number of wheels, but whether you are "enclosed" as in can you stick your legs out in the wind.

  9. Yeah, I think the market will take care of this one in the U.S. Most of us are way too afraid to haberdash on the highways in one of these little motorcycle/automobiles. The price could come down about $10,000 as well.

  10. @Daryl, erh yes, of course. But the Firefox spell checker doesn't like Triac no matter how I spell it.

  11. PLEASE AVOID THIS CAR! More precisely, avoid the company. I was really interested in this car almost three years ago, when they were supposedly only months away from delivery. This is a vaporware car, which is too bad, because I don't mind the three-wheel thing. It has a bloody roll-cage, so I'm not worried about safety (I ride motorcycles, after all). But I almost wasted an entire week and a lot of money to drive down and see it, only to be called last minute and told that "the shipment was delayed a week." Of course, keeping up with them, I doubt that any shipment will ever be coming in. It's really dissapointing to see this happen. It's like another Zap (which is not unexpected because the founder of Green Vehicles was one of the initial investors in Zap).

  12. Imagine getting rear ended in that thing. What would be a minor fender bender normally would probably turn into weeks without your car =/

  13. Jason; that must be some pretty thick vapor there. i have actually seen one of these and up til now, i dont think i even knew the name of it. i thought is was a one of kind prototype. weird!!

  14. Sorry John B., no buts or excuses should be made for your misspelled word/s. If you're going to be a 'corrector', make sure you proofread your posts yourself. Everyone should know that those spell checkers are unreliable.

  15. "Paul Scott from Plug In America reckons that "the market is quite robust" for lightweight commuter EVs like the Triac"
    I would not say robust I would say maybe ok. Most Americans drivers want a practical car that can seat 4 adults and some luggage. This car is a 2 seater and may sell as an in town commuter vehicle and there is a small market for that. What I would like to see is an inexpensive decently styled small 4 wheeled EV that can seat 4 adults and has a range of 100 or so miles being offered for $25,000 or less before Tax credit. Sort of akin to an electric car similar in size to a Ford Fiesta or a Hyundai Accent. That would sell real well. Even the Chevy Volt EV seems like a nice car compared to some of these weird looking EV's

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