The Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle is a blast (which may not last) • TechCrunch

“That doesn’t look safe.”

The statement would follow me around for days. Every time I mentioned that I was testing Arcimoto’s Fun Utility Vehicle – an all-electric three-wheeler in the open air – a friend or coworker would come forward to say what to them seemed like the obvious.

After all, most cars have four wheels, not three. They also tend to have doors and airbags as well.

Arcimoto’s FUV (or Fooove, as I chose to pronounce it) has something most fully enclosed sedans and subcompacts don’t: It’s a thrill to drive without feeling like a death trap.

Legally speaking, the FUV is a motorcycle. I think of it more like an electric go-kart that hits 75mph on the highway. However, if you’re like my colleague Brian Heater, your first thought might be “Flintmobile”. Another colleague wondered if it was more like an ATV. While another friend later said that the FUV it reminded them of a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.

Whatever you conclude at first glance, one thing’s for sure: if you want to drive something that everyone will form a hasty opinion about, then, boy, is this the car for you.

Apparently, a quick 10-minute walk around the block was all the training I needed before an Arcimoto employee sent me alone in the FUV.

I bought it from GoCar Tours Las Vegas, and that’s really the problem. the fuv it could be a cool little neighborhood car, but in a city like Las Vegas, this three-wheeler screams tourist excursion. Arcimoto may well have built it for soaking up the spectacle of the Strip, but I’d like to think the little guy also introduced some flavor of his own to SUV-dominated roads.

Driving down the Strip in the Arcimoto FUV.

Driving the Strip in the Arcimoto FUV

The FUV has heated seats and handlebars to compensate for the cold wind. There’s also a panoramic steel roof (which the GoCar filled with ads), a hand and foot brake (the former is regenerative), Bluetooth speakers, and a projected 102-mile city range.

I adjusted the handlebar throttle (and lack of steering wheel) faster than I expected. At a stoplight, I queued up a few songs that I felt comfortable submitting to passersby, slumped deeper into the front seat, and walked around like I had real things to do.

I’m a habitual, smug pedestrian and don’t own a car, but as I pulled into the parking lot of a pharmacy and got my bag out of the trunk (a little lockable “cargo box”) I thought, “Hey, three wheels are better than three wheels. none.” I was walking high pixies’ Doolittle and the novelty of it all, cruising virtually empty roads just before CES attendees and cabs clog Sin City’s arteries.

Then the traffic came.

The FUV is tiny, but it can’t cut through traffic quite like a conventional motorcycle. Still, there were times when I deeply appreciated her small stature and skirted through stretches of cars that took up half the lane waiting to turn.

Riding the Acrimoto FUV, the camera tilts from right to left, showing the two wide front bottoms.

Another photo of Arcimoto’s FUV on the Strip

Plus I could park anywhere. It takes up so little space that reserving an entire spot for the FUV seems almost wasteful.

Riding around with a passenger in the back was also a joy. You might not believe it, but the roof reflects sound well, so I was able to easily converse with my colleague Natalie Christman as she filmed from the backseat.

Having someone along with you also means you’ll notice more reactions from pedestrians. In our case, they ranged from blank stares and head nods to outright yelling. It’s not easy to hear what someone is shouting from the sidewalk on ultra-wide streets, but I noticed a few variations of “what is that!?” and “Is this new?!” (It’s not. The FUV debuted in 2019.)

Parking the Arcimoto FUV.

Park the FUV with plenty of room to spare

Then came the rain.

My stay in Las Vegas was extremely wet, as rare storms dumped buckets on the city. I considered this a challenge for me and for FUV. I agreed to endure a few days of icy knuckles and wet pants, as long as the goofy little vehicle didn’t slip and slide us under a huge pickup truck. It didn’t!

The rain wasn’t very challenging. Sometimes my hands felt a little numb despite the warm grips. (If I had an FUV I would only keep a pair of gloves in the back.) I occasionally dodged puddles. It was a minor hassle getting the rainwater off the seat and the roof did its job.

In a pinch, I sipped an iced latte and made notes about how cold I was. Why am I like this?

Other disadvantages of the FUV included the extra-heavy steering. It really made me work to take turns from a complete stop, driving almost like a car without power steering. I was told when I got it that the latest iteration of the fuv addresses this and drives lighter.

After a while, the attention also got old. I’m an introverted trans lady, so I’m not here for the stares that accompany a visually noisy vehicle. However, I don’t see this as a hindrance – just an observation. I also really love goofy cars, so this is more of a personal contradiction than anything else.

The FUV is certainly goofy. However, in normally dry locations like Las Vegas or, say, Los Angeles, this struck me as, dare I say it, practical. I would prefer a tiny city car with doors and windows, and there are three-wheelers on the market that offer just that, including Electra Meccanica’s SOLO.

With room for a passenger (unlike the SOLO) and an overall breezy driving experience on a single charge, I still think Arcimoto’s FUV is less silly than it initially seems.

The name makes it sound like a car best left to tourists; I would be happy to ride him around my neighborhood to run light errands. It felt sturdy and reliable in the three and a half days I spent with it, and riding on three wheels felt as natural to me as four. (Side note: I hit the highway, hitting around 60 mph, and that was a little too thrilling for my tastes.)

There are many reasons to opt for an extra small vehicle, especially if you live in a densely populated area. On the one hand, smaller vehicles require less materials and smaller batteries, which, at least in theory, should translate into lower emissions. Smaller vehicles are also less likely to kill pedestrians.

If you have any security concerns, you can check out what Arcimoto has to say about it here. A company spokesperson told TechCrunch that the “FUV’s steel upper structure meets FMVSS 216a Roof Crush Resistance standard.”

The car also includes a crash sensor that disconnects the battery on impact and “3-point dual seat belts”. This means you have to buckle up twice when entering.

There’s no shortage of fun; literally without funds

If you want to try FUV for yourself, hurry up. After laying off dozens of employees, Arcimoto, based in Eugene, Ore., warned investors in January that it was running out of cash.

“We have stopped our vehicle production and will need substantial additional funds to resume production,” the automaker said.

Without new funds, Arcimoto warned at the time that he “will be forced to stop our operations and/or file for bankruptcy protection”. The startup’s market cap was around $13.5 million when this story was published, a far cry from its high of over $1 billion two years ago.

The FUV starts at $17,900 before subsidies, but the price climbs above $25,000 with upgrades like higher-end seating, half doors, a rear cargo box, and cupholders. Arcimoto also sells used FUVs; on their website, the company has one listed for $16,800.

If you know anything about Arcimoto, please contact this reporter by email or twitter DM.

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