Up 'Schmitt Creek

Another fine mess...


Nothing New Under the Sun

O
r so they say. This page has an article about the Aptera Typ-1e, a car which looks amazingly similar to the Fend2000, and it just goes to show that the design principles of microcars like the KRs and Fend's other vehicles are just too good to die. Any time the problem of fuel cost or supply bubbles up, from Suez in '56, the oil price shock of '73, or today's sky high petrol prices, the same question gets asked, "How to waste less fuel?", and the microcar principles again prove to be the answer — use a small, efficient engine in a light, aerodyamic body (isn't this obvious yet?).

Today it's carbon footprint where the microcar wins again, and the Aptera is approaching the issue under the 'eco' label with an electic or hybrid motor. But fuel aside, the design similarities aren't just broadly similar. Take a look at the video in the article and you'll end up looking at a front suspension system and rear drive train that looks eerily like a KR200 that's been abducted by aliens and returned 'enhanced'. That said, the aliens haven't done much for the interiors — very plastic.

The big hurdle that these vehicles always struggle to overcome is, of course, not technical — it's the stigma that surrounds vehicles with three wheels, particularly in the UK and US. The perception is always of something flimsy, unstable and doomed to come off worst in any accident, and the spectre of the Reliant ("Trotter's Independent Trading") and invalid carriages hovers over even the most attractive of designs.

The closest that three wheel cars can get to 'cool' at present is either the T-Rex (insanely fast) or the Carver (just insane, but we'd all like one), and it doesn't seem likely that either of these is going to become mainstream any time soon. So just how expensive is modern motoring going to have to get before people wake up and smell the two stroke? Again.