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Drive Life : April 30th 2010
1HERSA1 F016 ALFAROMEO.COM.AU ARTARMON MCCARROLLS ALFA ROMEO 395 PACIFIC HW Y 1300 798 685 - DL 11624 | WYOMING BRIAN HILTON PRESTIGE AUTOMOBILES BROOKS AVENUE WYOMING 1800 801 189 - DL 8057 | COFFS HARBOUR COFFS PRESTIGE 4 TOLLHURST PL 1300 854 347 - DL 1534 | CANBERRA GULSON 76 NEWCASTLE ST FYSHWICK 1300 854 740 - DL 1 | LEICHHARDT RICK DAMELIAN ALFA 563 PARRAMATTA RD 1300 852 616 - DL 14576 | PARRAMATTA THOMSON ALFA ROMEO 43-47 CHURCH ST 1300 854 376 - DL 19710 | ROSEBERY SYDNEY CITY ALFA 1 LINK RD 1300 857 670 - DL 21036 | WOLLONGONG CORBAN AUTOMOTIVE 50 FLINDERS ST 1300 854 308 - DL 14576 *Savings based on the manufacturer's previously recommended driveaway price of $60,689 and this recommended promotional driveaway price of $55,990. Savings indicated also include the value of an installed Satellite Navigation Device worth $3,350. This is a manufacturer's ad and vehicles must be purchased from participating dealers. Offer ends 30 June 2010 or until stocks last, whichever comes first. BWMALF4898_SMH KNOW YOU'RE ALIVE 100 YEARS. ONE LOVE. INC FREE SAT NAV FREE REGO, FREE CTP INSURANCE, FREE STAMP DUTY, FREE DEALER DELIVERY 159 Ti 2.2L JTS MANUAL 136kW DRIVE AWAY 16 Drive Life April 30, 2010 drive.com.au Bubbles burst into favour THREE-WHEELERS SALLY DOMINGUEZ Environment-conscious drivers are once again warming to three-wheeler motorbike-car hybrids. Buzz . . . BMW CLEVER (left) has a pivot bolt that keeps fuel upright while the cockpit tilts; electric ''scooter-car'' the AirPOD. If you are not a motorcycle rider, then a ''tri-car'' that tilts into corners could be mildly unsettling. On the upside, it could add some much-needed spice to your daily commute. From a two- person ride that promises to ''feel like you're flying a jet fighter'' to a sweet three-seater bubble that runs on air, a new generation of fuel- efficient three-wheeler vehicles is revitalising a tried-and-tested genre as a salve to overcrowded roads and overpolluted cities. Will yours be a ''tadpole'', a Spyder or an old-school Reliant Robin? According to the University of South Australia, 80 per cent of our commuter trips have only one person in the car, yet cars make up 56 per cent of transport emissions. Despite government campaigns to walk, ride or run, three-quarters of Australians drive to work or to school. In the US it is closer to 90 per cent. Given the disconnect between owning a four-seater car and using it daily to drive solo, it's little wonder three-wheelers using less fuel than a motorbike and able to hold two, even three, people are back in vogue. Unlike golf carts and neighbourhood electric vehicles (NEVs), tri-cars are not speed- limited because they are classified as motorcycles. As such they are far less expensive than cars to register and insure in most countries. And as ''motorcycles'' rather than golf carts, they are far more fun. Three-wheeled enclosed vehicles known as tri-cars and micro-cars -- or triporteurs in French -- have been produced since the late 1800s and in concept sketches since Leonardo da Vinci. Taxed as a motorcycle since the early days and often driven on a motorbike licence, tri-cars run on anything from bike engines to gas and compressed air. Designers and engineers have remained fairly evenly divided on the pros and cons of ''delta'' two-wheel- powered rear-drive and simplified front-wheel steering, or a ''reverse trike'' formation with superior aerodynamics and improved stability. History is peppered with both. After World War II, when manufacturing restrictions imposed on Germany and Japan prevented them from building aircraft, both countries applied aeronautical engineering to the development of aerodynamic enclosed scooter vehicles. The Messerschmitt KR-175 with its bubble top, and the Fuji Cabin, enclosed in a monocoque of polyester sporting a solo headlight on its snout, joined streamlined French creations including the fabulous rubber-belted, egg-shaped Avolette Record De Luxe to deliver affordable enclosed personal transportation with unrivalled fuel efficiency. Iconic tri-cars from the 1950s include the BMW Isetta series, Mazda's K360 trucks and vans, the Jetson-like Cub Commuter built in 1982 for the US market and Britain's Reliant Robin, retired only in 2002. The ''tadpole'' shape gives three- wheelers an aerodynamic advantage over cars without the safety compromise of a motorcyclist's exposed position. They are more comfortable over long rides than a bike and the low centre of gravity means that, with the right engine, they handle sweetly. Key to the resurgence of interest in the three-wheel genre is that it optimises packaging and fuel efficiency in a generally affordable bundle. In designing its three-wheel, two-seat electric prototype, TREV, the University of South Australia noted that the CO2 emissions from a coal-fired power station recharging a 1200-kilogram electric car (say a Prius) are about the same as the emissions from a 1200-kilogram petrol car. Aerodynamically designed and only 300 kilograms, TREV scoops the pool in energy use and emissions. Introducing the Renault-Nissan Alliance Twizy electric three-wheeled car at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the chairman, Carlos Ghosn, said: ''Car use accounts for 12 per cent to 14 per cent of total CO2 emissions -- we need to act now to reduce it.'' Partially enclosed electric ''scooter-cars'', such as the Twizy or the AirPOD, a three-seater, three- wheeler that runs on compressed air, might be the answer to the nuclear family city commute but the aesthetic doesn't need to be cutesy. A large part of what dictates the form of a tri-car is how its engineers manage the tendency of a tri-car to tip. Dropping the body low and squat is just one option. Standing a tri-car higher, for better visibility in traffic and more in line with four-wheeled cars, makes it more prone to tipping on corners. To counter this, tri-cars are generally engineered to tilt either in two sections with a pivot or as a whole with a self-righting mechanism. The CLEVER (Compact Low Emission VEhicle for uRban transport) vehicle developed by BMW and the University of Bath has a pivot bolt that allows its compressed gas fuel cylinders to remain upright over the two rear wheels while the cockpit tilts up to 45 degrees into corners, giving it a lean, speedy insect form. The Californian-made Aptera has a more extreme insect body but uses wheels on struts to stabilise the car. Mercedes launched the concept of an active tilt control system in 1997 with the F300 Life Jet tilting up to 30 degrees to give a more comfortable ride with no need to ''brace'' into corners. Claiming 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds and using 5.3 litres over 100 kilometres, the Life Jet has influenced this century's tri-car designers, with similar technology found in the Carver One, T-Rex and other sport-oriented tri-cars. The owner and developer of Green Lite Motors in the US, Tim Miller, has evolved tilt in his tri-car by using a ''unique geometry in the front end'' to leave his two-seater prototype ''free to lean'' with the natural feel of a motorcycle rather than the ''forced lean'' of Carver, Life Jet et al. TREV and pals are mega savers Australia's stance on fuel- efficient commuter tri-cars is unclear but the potential impact on transport emissions isn't: if half our solo commuters drove electric tri- cars, the savings of nine megatonnes of CO2 equal the annual emissions of domestic aviation, rail and ship transport. TREV and his CLEVER pals should be proper family members.
May 7th 2010