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Solar-powered Elf: Rides like a bike, drives like a dream

NEED TO KNOW
  • Pedal the Elf or use the solar-powered motor to get you where you're going
  • Go where a bicycle goes, but with the added safety of headlights, blinkers, mirrors and a horn like a car

How would you like to get around on a bicycle, but have a little help when you get tired of pedaling and something that's more visible than a traditional bike?  Say hello to the Elf. It's a three-wheeled pedaler that can go where a bicycle goes and has a solar-powered motor that kicks in when you need it. 

Rob Cotter is the founder and CEO of Organic Transit, the Durham, North Carolina, company that makes the Elf. He says because the Elf is classified as a bicycle in the United States, it doesn't need insurance, registration or an inspection. The Elf has mirrors like a car, a horn, blinkers and headlights to help make it safer.  
 
Cotter has been tinkering with environmentally conscious vehicles such as the Elf for some 30 years. The Elf's body is made mostly from recycled plastic and the frame is made of 45% recycled aluminum. The solar-powered battery can be recharged by the sun in about seven hours or it can be plugged in.  
 
Cotter says it's perfect for a commuter who has to go to work dressed up and doesn't want to get all sweaty from riding a bike. They can get to work on all electric power and when they get there, they won't need a shower. They can leave the vehicle out in the sun all day and it charges back up. And on the way home, they can get a workout by pedaling home.
 
The production model should weigh about 100 pounds, which includes a battery, motor and solar panel. The Elf is being delivered to customers starting in March for around $4,000.

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