Four years ago, a three-wheeled foam car called Spira was created. It was invented by Lon Ballard for the sole purpose of decreasing the number of road fatalities. Over the years Ballard has been working on refining the technology, with his base of operations now in China. The pilot production of electric and gas-powered variants has begun. Spira’s successor is called the Spira4u.
The Spira4u’s exterior is made of expanded polypropylene foam over a fiberglass honeycomb. It has one wheel in front, two in back, with an enclosed cabin and seating for one. The vehicle is steered with two grips in the shape of an inverted V. Accelerating and braking are done the traditional way, with a gas pedal and a brake pedal.
Production of Spira4U has started in China and the electric version is 190kg, while the gas version of the car is 200kg. Both versions have the same honeycomb chassis along with a fiberglass body and body panels made from lightweight and recyclable foam. The foam absorbs impacts and helps make the car more aerodynamic in shape and it stands out against other cars as this one is able to float.
The gas powered version comes with a price tag of $5,000 and is powered by a 150cc Wangye motorcycle engine which can take the car to a maximum speed of 53mph and gets approximately 200 miles from the 2.5 gallon gas tank. The electric version costs $9,000 and it can use either one or two of the 13.4hp motors with another motor that can be fitted to the back wheel. The top speed on this vehicle can go up to 62 mph. The electric version has some advantages though. The biggest of these is the fact that it comes with a reverse gear along with a rear facing camera. The controls of the Spira4U are similar to those of a car as the foot brake will operate the three disc brakes and there is a gas pedal operated by the foot. Due to the size and weight of the car, it can fit into small parking spaces. Eight Spira4U cars can fit into one parking spot.
The Spira4U will be shown at the NAIAS show in Detroit next week where Ballard is hoping to find potential dealers in the United States and manufacturing licensees around the world.