The TORQ Roadster combines Formula One performance with an environmental conscience

AFP
First Published: 17:57 IST(19/3/2013)
Last Updated: 18:00 IST(19/3/2013)
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Capable of going from 0-60mph in four seconds and of generating One G of lateral force when cornering, the TORQ Roadster is one part eco-friendly personal mobility and one part Formula One car, even if it has one wheel fewer than the typical F1 car. Its makers claim that the three-wheeler is the fastest electric vehicle money can buy
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As well as perfectly smooth and constant acceleration, the electric engine also offers over 400 horsepower, all of which is kept in check with four-piston racing derived brakes and a suspension and chassis set-up that borrows from Formula One technology. Meanwhile, ensuring that none of the horsepower is wasted through dragging around excess weight, the exterior panels are formed from carbon fibre to increase rigidity while keeping the vehicle lightweight.

Its makers, California-based Epic EV, claim that the point of the TORQ is to show consumers that an electric vehicle doesn't have to compromise on performance and handling in order to be environmentally friendly or energy efficient.

The TORQ Roadster will be officially launched on April 6 and will retail for $65,000 in the US and €50,000 in Europe. Epic EV expects demand to outstrip supply -- it only intends to build 50 examples in 2013 and has therefore set up a waiting list for 2014 that anyone with a $5000 deposit can join.

It will no doubt be popular in the company's native California where sunny days and roof-down motoring are the norm, but in Northern Europe where the summer can be counted in weeks, rather than months, its lack of roof might mean it is more likely to appeal to superbike riders that are looking for something different than a typical sportscar owner.

Nevertheless, the three-wheel motorbike/car hybrid is becoming a much more mainstream choice for drivers and riders looking for a motorcycle's acceleration and a car's superior stability and braking. CAN-AM, the US/Canadian quad bike, snowmobile and off-road kart company, debuted its CAN-AM Spyder RS in 2008 -- a racing and touring tricycle with two wheels at the front and one at the back that has proven so popular in the biker community that it is in its sixth iteration and has grown from a single vehicle to a three-model range targeting racers and tourers alike. However, unlike the TORQ, the CAN-AM Spyder is powered by a conventional internal combustion engine.

Likewise, specialist UK car-builder Morgan, which started out as a three-wheel-vehicle company back in 1910, recently returned to its roots with the hand-built Morgan 3 Wheeler, which has been a big hit with Morgan enthusiasts since its launch in 2011.


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