First Production Tour of Arcimoto Roadster and Fun Utility Vehicle – CleanTechnica Exclusive
Guest post by: Sofiaan fraval
I haven’t ridden an internal combustion vehicle for 5 years and that includes my motorcycle, which has been parked in my garage collecting dust the entire time. I loved riding it and took it regularly to the track for a more spirited ride. I wasn’t sure any other vehicle could ever give me the same feeling of freedom I had on a motorcycle, but without the safety concerns that come with motorcycles and the environmental impact of burning gasoline.
Don’t get me wrong, I love driving and tracking my Tesla Model 3 Performance, but there is something so fascinating about riding without being surrounded by metal and glass. On a motorbike, I feel free and more in touch with the world. Elon Musk has shattered my dreams more than once by saying that Tesla would never build a motorcycle mainly because he doesn’t think they are safe. I’m definitely not saying motorcycles are safe, but that’s why they’re so fun. Haha! So I put it out of my mind until …
My boyfriend Kyle called me and asked if I wanted to hang out with Arcimoto’s Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) for a day. I said without hesitation “of course I will try”. I knew Arcimoto’s vehicles were fully electric and had two front wheels in an inverted trike setup for added stability compared to motorcycles. I was fascinated by the different appearance of the FUV and curious what they would feel like driving. I needed to try!
The day before my test drive, I saw in a tweet that Tesla chief designer Franz Von Holzhausen was also checking out the Arcimoto FUV in California. I thought it was pretty cool that Franz was so excited about the FUV that I was driving the next day! Watching Franz’s video until the end, hidden in the background was the coveted Arcimoto Roadster.
– von Holzhausen (@vonHolzhausen) May 2, 2021
There weren’t many videos of the Roadster and I hadn’t met anyone lucky enough to have driven one. I really wanted to ride it! I really liked the roadster because of its similarities to a motorcycle, but with additional safety features that a motorcycle does not have. Features such as better visibility for other road users as it is a larger vehicle and increased stability especially when cornering as it does not require tilting the vehicle. I asked the team if it was a possibility to drive the roadster and they just gave me a “maybe” with no commitment.
On the day of my test drive, I packed my helmet in case I got a chance to drive the Roadster. Driving a 3-wheeled Arcimoto only requires a standard California driver’s license. And for the roadster only, drivers are required to wear a DOT approved helmet. I went to the event on the Pacific Coast Highway in my Tesla Model 3 and it was a great way to get in a good mood ahead of the event. If you haven’t driven the Pacific Coast Highway, I highly recommend it. You will not regret it.
Once in Santa Monica, I received a message from Arcimoto CEO Mark Frohnmayer confirming our meeting at the local Tesla Supercharger. It was time to get to know the FUV! I immediately noticed that the FUV looked more like a motorcycle than a car, but with an additional front wheel. The FUV roof was actually designed to comply with the 571.216a roof crush standard for cars! Double seat belts tie you in for maximum safety and due to the sturdy safety cage over your head, no helmet is required!
The throttle on the FUV is very similar to a motorcycle, with a right-mounted rotary throttle that controls acceleration. The main “front” brake is a small lever on the right side of the handlebars that is different from traditional brakes. It is in fact a regenerative brake that engages the motor to slow down the FUV, reinjecting energy into the battery at the same time!
In addition to the front regenerative brake, a more traditional disc brake setup is operated via a pedal by your right foot. With the regeneration lever doing the majority of the heavy lifting in the braking department, the friction brake is usually only needed for the last couple of feet to bring the FUV to a full stop.
At the rear, the Arcimoto FUV is equipped with a large, lockable storage compartment. It was handy for storing my backpack, helmet and other items along the way. I can’t tell you how many times I went for a ride on my motorbike with a heavy load on my back, arriving at my destination very tired and in need of a chiropractor! Not with the FUV. The storage compartment is actually a lot bigger than I expected, so I was able to stow my helmet and backpack with plenty of extra room for more cargo.
On my first FUV ride, I jumped on it and immediately felt like playing Beach Buggy Racing in real life! The FUV is super fun and I enjoyed learning about the controls. The throttle is very responsive and allows precise control of the acceleration. The electric motors respond in milliseconds and the experience is very intuitive and addictive! I immediately found myself at full throttle just to see how it was going to behave and I was not disappointed!
The little regeneration lever provides most of the braking force I needed and it’s so handy because you only need to use one finger to engage it. The foot brake is also perfectly integrated, but is really only needed for the last two meters of stopping. Even with its full roll cage, the FUV felt open and it was a pleasure to drive. After spending some time driving and filming in the FUV and with my cheeks aching from smiling, we stopped for a short break.
I asked if I could trade in vehicles and was delighted when Mark said “sure”. Everything was the same as the FUV, just without the cage on top. Just like on a motorcycle, the Roadster does not have a seat belt. For this reason you have to wear a helmet to ride it and luckily I had come prepared with mine.
I had so much fun on the FUV, but as soon as I hopped on the Roadster for the first time it felt like I was on my bike again. I could look in any direction without being obstructed. When cornering, I naturally found myself leaning out of the vehicle as I would with my motorcycle. I was having fun thinking “this is so cool, I need to buy one!” I was super grateful to be able to drive the Roadster for the rest of the day. We also met Ross Gerber who also fell in love with the Roadster. It was clearly the favorite.
My short experience on the FUV and the Roadster opened my eyes to the potential of these vehicles. They’re functional, yes, but what’s exciting about them is how they turn boring tasks into super fun adventures. Why not hire one when you go on vacation? How about taking an Arcimoto to the race track? This is something I would love to see!
While these vehicles are meant to be driven, Mark mentioned that he would also like to have a fully autonomous driving solution to get vehicles to and from customers. Something like this would allow Arcimoto to deliver vehicles directly to customers quickly and affordably. The vehicle could take the safest and easiest route with an option to be controlled remotely in case it encountered a problem along the way. I could see that this feature was used a lot for rental customers.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with the driving experience and performance of both vehicles. I look forward to seeing these vehicles everywhere very soon. For more information on the FUV or the Roadster, meeting on The Arcimoto site.
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