Low-price 3-wheeled EV Will Debut as Delivery Car, Taxi

Sep 28, 2013
Tatsuhiko Hayashi, Nikkei Automotive Technology
[Click to enlarge image]
[Click to enlarge image]
[Click to enlarge image]

Advanced Transportation Technology (ATT) R&D Co exhibited the "Smart Porter" three-wheeled electric vehicle (EV) at the Electric Vehicle Development Technology Exhibition, which took place from Sept 25 to 27, 2013, in Tokyo.

The EV is equipped with a lithium-ion (Li-ion) rechargeable battery, but its price is as low as ¥500,000 (approx US$5,068) in Japan, where it will be released in 2014.

Speaking of three-wheeled EVs whose prices are lower than ¥500,000, there is the "Rena" being sold by GPCC (Green Power Circuit Corporation), which is an affiliate company of Kyoden Co Ltd, a Japan-based printed-circuit board maker. But the Rena uses a lead-acid battery, and its upper body is not equipped. So, the Smart Porter is the only low-priced three-wheeled EV that uses a Li-ion battery and has an equipped upper body.

ATT R&D is a South Korea-based venture that remodels vehicles into hybrid vehicles and develops EVs. And it has been engaged in the development of EVs for 10 years or more.

With its technologies, a prototype of the Smart Porter was designed by an Italian designer and made in cooperation with IRDC, a Japan-based firm that forms plastic parts outside Japan. The EV is scheduled to be released in North America, Europe and Japan at the same time in 2014.

The body of the Smart Porter was made by covering an aluminum alloy frame with an FRP (fiber-reinforced plastic) body. By making it a three-wheeled vehicle, it became possible to reduce the number of parts and lower costs without the need to conform to the rigorous safety standards for four-wheeled vehicles.

For the prototype, ATT R&D employed a 3.5kW alternating-current (AC) motor manufactured in South Korea and 3.2kWh iron phosphate-based Li-ion battery manufactured in China. Its drive range is 50km (approx 31 miles).

A smartphone is used in place of instruments. And ATT R&D is considering using a smartphone for checking charging status and providing navigation.

The company said that the Smart Porter will possibly be used for mail delivery in Italy. And it expects that the two-seater version of the vehicle will be used as a taxi in Southeast Asian countries. Furthermore, it is planning to sell the parts of the EV as a do-it-yourself kit.