• Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
  • Image Credit: Copyright 2015 Seyth Miersma / AOL
Four years ago we posted on the three-wheeled foam car that was going to enter the Auto X-Prize. The car was the Spira at the time, and it made it to the round-of-four in X-Prize competition. Its inventor, Lon Ballard, created the vehicle for the sole purpose of lowering the number of road fatalities and has spent the intervening years refining the idea, moving his base of operations to China and recently beginning pilot production of electric and gas-powered variants.

The Spira4u's exterior is made of expanded polypropylene foam over a fiberglass honeycomb. Pretty close to a three-wheeled scooter - one wheel in front, two in back - with an enclosed cabin and seating for one, steering is done with two grips in the shape of an inverted-V-shaped, as if you'd cut the middle bit out of a handlebar and angled the ends. Accelerating and braking are done the traditional car way, with a gas pedal and a brake pedal.

The electric version comes in single or dual-motor versions. With a single 10-kW motor and 72-amp battery pack, the 520-pound runabout has a 70-mile range, a top speed of 62 miles per hour, can be charged at a standard household outlet in either two hours (110V) or four and costs $9,000. Add another battery pack for $3,500 and range runs out to 140 miles, and you can add another motor for $1,500 for more speed. Spira4u will even provide customers the electronics controller program, "so that they can tweak it to their liking." The company is showing a removable battery pack at the Detroit Auto Show to make charging even more convenient.

The 440-pound gas-powered version gets a 150-cc motorcycle engine from Chinese firm Wangye, mated to an automatic transmission. Range on that one is 200 miles from the 2.4-gallon tank, with a top speed of 53 mph. Unlike the its electric sibling, it doesn't come with a reverse gear, which seems to be quite the omission. It costs $5,000. One trick unique to both models: you can hoist their noses and park them on their backsides to take up less space. Gizmodo reports that the Spira4u has passed US emissions testing and should be approved soon, and Ballard is looking to enter the US market.


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