Feds Greenlight Funding Aid For Mileage-Maxing Three-Wheelers

This week, President Obama signed a bill that makes fuel-efficient three-wheeled vehicles eligible for supplemental development assistance through loans from the Department of Energy (DOE). Prior to its passage, only manufacturers of four-wheeled vehicles qualified for consideration to get a chunk of the $25 billion available under provisions of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP). Terms of this new legislation -- which specifically came in the form of an amendment authored by Representative Brian Bilbray (R-California) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) attached to a previously passed energy appropriations bill -- extend consideration to include all "fully enclosed vehicles that are capable of carrying two adults and get at least 75 mpg." So far, 75 different automakers, including Fisker and Tesla, have applied for and/or received federal monies under terms of the original ATVMIP. This latest change opens the door for other forms of transport modules, most notably the new electric-powered Aptera 2e (shown here in its final design form) that will go on sale in 2010 and a super-efficient gasoline-engined three-wheeler from Elio Motors due out in 2011.

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