What It’s Like to Drive an Arcimoto

You’re in a cockpit, and it’s way more Top Gun than Ford Taurus.

Instead of driving a 3-ton Suburban to the store for a gallon of milk, Mark Frohnmayer wants people to take a two-seat electric FUV. There are countless trips that can be made with his vehicle, Frohnmayer says, including Uber and Lyft rides. Take combustion engines out of all those journeys, and you go a long way toward cutting carbon emissions.

Arcimoto's ideal market might be a place like The Villages, the sprawling senior living community northwest of Orlando, Fla., says Michael Shlisky, an analyst at Colliers Securities. The community has 750 miles of private roads, and the preferred vehicle is the golf cart—an estimated 60,000 of them. Village dwellers have money and might be willing to upgrade from a frumpy cart to a zippy FUV.

I went to Eugene one sunny March day for a test drive, starting in the rear seat with company spokesman Jonathan Miller at the handlebars.

The Arcimoto uses double seat belts for safety that crisscross your torso. I was glad to have them when Miller hit the gas on the first straightaway and left my spleen back at the stoplight. EVs accelerate at a constant rate, with no pauses for gear shifts. I felt like I was speeding down the highest hill on a roller coaster.

We buzzed around Eugene and found a road where I wouldn't kill anyone. Miller gave me the basics. Twist the right-hand grip to accelerate. A button under your index finger slows the rig by channeling kinetic forward motion back into the battery. There's a foot brake, too, for more immediate stops. The blinker is a button by your left hand.

I strapped into the driver's seat and inched forward. It was a brisk day, so we had the seat and grip heaters on. I didn't believe it at first, but those two features really make up for the lack of doors.

Miller said driving an Arcimoto is like flying an X-Wing, and he's not far off. You're in a cockpit, and it's way more Top Gun than Ford Taurus. Pretty soon, I was ripping. Electric acceleration means you can beat most any gas-guzzler off the line at a stoplight. I felt like a fleet mammal from the Carboniferous Period running between the legs of dinosaurs.

Now all Frohnmayer has to do is sell Americans on evolution.

Cover story: Mark Frohnmayer built a three-wheeled rocket trike. Why is it worth a billion dollars?

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