Compact three-wheeled vehicles that aren’t really cars OR bikes raise a lot of questions — and Arcimoto is here to answer them.
Based in Eugene, Oregon, Arcimoto manufactures small three-wheeled electric vehicles like the “FUV” and “Deliverator” that deliver highway-capable speeds and decent around-town range. Being three-wheelers, though, they’re not really cars — but they’re not really motorcycles, either.
Arcimoto’s vehicles fall into a category of vehicles called “autocycles,” and the company recently shared some thoughts on what it means for something to be an autocycle, how that designation can impact local helmet laws, and more. You can check it out for yourself, below, then let us know what you think of the company’s vision in the comments.
The Ins and Outs of Autocycles: What You Need to Know
We’ll be the first to admit: Arcimoto vehicles are unlike anything else on the road today, which is exactly the point. In order to be successful in our mission to “right size” transportation, to create the most efficient tools for everyday driving and delivery, it’s critical to rethink vehicle design. This gave birth to the three-wheel Arcimoto Platform upon which all our vehicles are built.
Of course, three-wheel vehicles are extremely rare in the history of transportation, and this raises the question: If three wheel vehicles are not exactly cars, and they aren’t exactly motorcycles, what are they?
Vehicle definitions are up to each state, and the FUV has been defined as a motorcycle, a three-wheel motorcycle, and, most commonly, an autocycle.
What is an autocycle? Though the exact definition varies by state, autocycles can most commonly be defined as:
- Has three wheels with two in the front and one in the rear
- Has full seats and seatbelts versus a saddle you sit astride
- Has been certified by the manufacturer to comply with all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards as of the date of manufacture.
Though not as common, some states also require that autocycles have a steering wheel or some sort of roll cage, roll hoops, or enclosure.
What are some benefits of driving an autocycle versus a motorcycle? First and foremost, most states allow you to operate an autocycle with a regular drivers license. This makes sense, as two-wheel bikes require special skills, balance, and leaning to operate, while the stable platform of an autocycle drives more like a traditional automobile. Secondly, you typically aren’t required to wear a helmet in an autocycle. As you can imagine, this makes autocycles much more accessible for drivers looking to rightsize their everyday transportation.
At Arcimoto, one of our major legislative goals over the years has been to help redefine autocycle definitions in each state to give licensed drivers easy access to our vehicles. Over the years we’ve successfully worked to change laws in New York, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Alabama, and Louisiana, with more states on the way in the coming years.
To see the license and helmet requirements for all of our open states, check out our State Guidelines Page.
As with all new technologies, federal and state legislation can be slow to catch up. We hope this little autocycle primer was informative and helpful. Thank you again for supporting Arcimoto and clean transportation. Until next time, we’ll see you on the road!
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