— Urban Transport
e-fox velomobile wants to be your next "car"
The e-fox is the most recent in a line of car-like velomobiles to come out of the US
Velomobiles, which can more or less be defined as enclosed human-powered tricycles, come in many shapes and forms. Both the Elf and the Tripod feature an electric-assist motor, and have opted for a look that's sort of like a cross between that of a trike and a car. The e-fox is the latest such vehicle to come to our attention. It offers the same basic features as its rivals, but at a lower estimated price.
The e-fox was designed by North Carolina-based entrepreneur Jesse Stephenson, and is being manufactured by his company Nu Way 2 Commute.
It uses an existing Terra Trike Rover recumbent tricycle as its platform, onto which is added a fiberglass body shell; a windshield and rear window (plus roll-down clear plastic doors); a full lighting package; a 36-volt, 15-amp hour lithium battery; and last but not least, a 500-watt hub motor.
The whole shebang tips the scales at 132 lb (60 kg) and can carry a payload of up to 270 lb (122 kg).
Jesse Stephenson with his e-fox
Riders can choose between pedal-power only, pedaling with assistance from the motor, or using nothing but motor power. The e-fox has a maximum legally-allowable motorized speed of 20 mph (32 km/h), and should be able to travel about 30 miles (48 km) per charge using the motor alone. Users can extend that range – and get some exercise – by pedaling for at least part of the trip.
A full charge of the battery takes approximately four to five hours from empty.
Stephenson is currently raising production funds on Kickstarter. A pledge of US$4,500 will get you an e-fox of your own, when and if they're ready to go. The projected retail price is $4,850. That's around the range of some fairly high-end bicycles, and is still $145 less than the Elf and $2,600 less than the Tripod – plus it's a lot cheaper than a new car.
Jesse's wife Candy can be seen using an e-fox in the video below.
Sources: Nu Way 2 Commute, Kickstarter
About the Author
An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.
All articles by Ben Coxworth
Hmm, I wonder why they didn't show the roll-down doors in place? From the pictures it looks like it will have a lot of drag with the doors, even with an opening in the rear over a window of some sort. Then again it doesn't look like it is built for speed, but one reason you would want to ride in this over a bike would be to stay dry so it would have been nice to see all the holes plugged up.
Big fan of all things electric, especially bikes but this could be a death trap as are the tow behind child transporters. Good riding gear on a electric cargo bike would be much more to my liking.
Hey exodous, The doors are just "rain doors", not to be used all the time. The back does have a permenant roll up door, similar to a jeep. There probably is additional resistance. The e-fox wasn't primarily designed to be aerodynamic, but more of a commuting vehicle. I rode about 10 miles on the beach yesterday in 17 mph winds, and on the same power setting, it was 17mph average while pedaling. going into the wind was only two mph slower. I imagine it used a bit more juice though. Thanks for your comments!
Hey Rehab, I imagine there are inheritant risks with the e-fox, just as there are with bicycles and recumbent trikes, and for that matter, cars and airplanes. My wife is no daredevil, and she feels quite comfortable in it, as you can see from the above video. I believe she likes it in power level 3,(there are 5 power levels) which takes her to about 16 mph. Thanks for your comments Rehab
Good way to use a recumbent trike and keep out of the rain! Have you considered 'squaring' the openings a little and making front-hinged half-doors? No real extra protection, but would look a lot safer for 'helicopter' parents / spouses! Mine gets uptight if I ride an ordinary bike! I might add I would love an after-market screen wiper(s) for vision in case weather changed mid-trip, I assume you have already thought about brake lights / indicators?
I like it! Hope there'll be a two-seater.
I really think that if we're to present a viable alternative to the private fossil fuel powered automobile it should be attractive. The modern automotive design language is highly evolved and extremely sophisticated and car makers work very hard to make their bodies look good. I'm sorry to say it but this thing looks like something my 7 year old would draw.
Reminds me of the Bond Bug three-wheeled 'sports car' of the early 70s.
Unfortunately the 'cartoonish' appearance of this vehicle would probably be met with derision on British streets, although I could see it working in other countries. It would also be very vulnerable here for other reasons- the edge of the road often has sunken drainage grilles which would destabilize this vehicle, and we tend to have very high cambers relative to other countries (that is, the profile of the road is slightly arched to allow better drainage)- meaning that you'd always be having to fight the camber (wasting considerable energy) compared to an inline 2 wheeled bike.
Also, no windscreen wiper would make use in the rain dangerous. We have a lot of rain here...
Looks like it can carry a surfboard, which is my main criteria for owning an automobile, so this would be car enough for me.
This item has too many negatives. The load capacity is too low for Americans. We have many citizens who weight over two hundred pounds and their weight plus groceries or packages exceeds the design limit. Next the issue in my region is heat. The one advantage of a normal bicycle is that you are in the breeze and hopefully on a frame that lifts you a bit away from the boiling hot road surface and also allows you to see over cars. Then parking is the final straw. Go to the beach on a bicycle and there is no parking fee. On this device the parking is two dollars an hour. Also if one tries to use a sidewalk with this vehicle you can bet a ticket will soon be issued. Regular bicycles are tolerated on most sidewalks. If rain is a big issue I would rather wear a rain suit.
I like it. Since it uses a battery, why not put a light weight solar panel in place of the surfboard? In warm weather it would act as a 'tropical roof' and the battery could gain some charge when parked or just pedaling. I wish someone would come up with body kits like this for motorcycles/scooters and other human powered vehicles that could be installed on already-owned vehicles.
[The Elf velomobile has a solar panel in its roof. Check out our article at: http://www.gizmag.com/elf-pedal-solar-velomobile/25285/ - Ed.]
The Skud, thanks for your comments. It does come with brake lights,headlights, and turn signals. There is a manual windshield wiper that comes with it upon request, like the old Willy's Jeeps. You would have to install it though.
Hey Morten, It would be difficult to get a two seater on a bike path. Maybe in an upcoming model though.
Hey Mick Allen, thanks for your comments. Unfortuneately,as the car dealers know all too well, there just isn't one model that everyone is going to like. Maybe a future model will suit you.
Hey Bergamoto69 We will at least initially be selling these primarily in the U.S. Thanks for your comments!
Mihai- thanks for the compliment! In a beach town, this will probably trump having a solar panel on the roof. I have worked alot with solar power both on a cabin I built and in Venezuela, and felt this would be a better option of the two.
Hey Jim, thanks for your comments. You can park on many sidewalks. You would need to check with your local authorities to see if you could in your region. At the end of the day, these are classified as bicycles for a reason, and not cars. This is a perfect vehicle for someone who commutes 5 or so miles daily, and for going to the grocery store or other errands.
Thanks, History nut, for the compliment!
In the United States, until you change the perception of things, these sorts of vehicles will never be accepted. You have too many people who think it is perfectly fine to fire up a huge SUV just to go to the local market! And as many have noticed, those same people would not have any respect for this sort of vehicle. A real shame.
I like it KIS engineering means lower costs.
I have to agree with Jim. The load is too small. I weigh in at 250 so that means I might be able to carry my work stuff and MAYBE a bag of groceries. Granted that many people are smaller than I am, but then again, there are many larger.
I like where it's going though. If it were me, Maybe a little more length. Places that gets tons of sun would make it easier to add a little extra juice for the wipers and here where I live....you'd need a heater or defroster half the year.
Update! In order to get some momentum going on kickstarter, I reduced the price to $3995!
Well I got the e-fox yesterday and while it is a good conversation piece it's not really practical here in the Northeast. If the roads were in perfect condition it would be fun to ride around in. The way it's body is attached to the Tera trike with rivets it feels like it is going to come apart. I will be swapping some of these rivets out for tapped holes & screws with lock washers. I think I'll have a better chance of it staying together. Also it's a pain in the ass to get in and out of . It looks pretty nice but some of the cardboard components leave something to be desired. I will also be fastening the 2 containers down in the trunk so they don't flop around and going to figure out something for the trunk lid as well. The LED lights are nice but the headlights point to far up to see much of the road while driving. The battery holder for the 12 volt battery is too small for any of the batteries I have so I'll have to look around to see if they make a small one. The chain fell off on the way to work on it's first journey it kind of hangs down and seems like it needs maybe more tension. The trike and the LCD didn't have any owners manual with it so I will be online looking for the directions to set the LCD and trouble shoot the chain issues.A lot of work went into this thing but for now it will remain in the garage until I can be sure I will make it to my destination. It is one of two trikes, not sure if there are going to be any more, but with a little work I'm sure it can be improved. I guess it's still a work in progress and I'm on my own to get it to be as functional as I can.
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