Automotive

Top 10 green concept cars of 2013

Top 10 green concept cars of 2...
Gizmag takes a look at our favorite eco-friendly concept cars from the past 12 months
Gizmag takes a look at our favorite eco-friendly concept cars from the past 12 months
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Volkswagen first showed the CrossBlue Coupe at the 2013 North American International Auto Show
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Volkswagen first showed the CrossBlue Coupe at the 2013 North American International Auto Show
The CrossBlue Coupe's initial specs included 89 mpg-e and 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds
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The CrossBlue Coupe's initial specs included 89 mpg-e and 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds
The Volkswagen CrossBlue appeared at the Detroit, Shanghai and Los Angeles shows
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The Volkswagen CrossBlue appeared at the Detroit, Shanghai and Los Angeles shows
VIA Motors debuts the XTRUX concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show
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VIA Motors debuts the XTRUX concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show
A greener pickup truck, the XTRUX uses an 800-hp range-extending hybrid powertrain
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A greener pickup truck, the XTRUX uses an 800-hp range-extending hybrid powertrain
The XTRUX at NAIAS 2013
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The XTRUX at NAIAS 2013
VIA Motors trucks have power outlets built in
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VIA Motors trucks have power outlets built in
The Frankfurt-debuted Citroën Cactus concept uses a Hybrid Air drivetrain
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The Frankfurt-debuted Citroën Cactus concept uses a Hybrid Air drivetrain
In addition to Hybrid Air technology, the Citroën Cactus showcases "Airbump" body protection
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In addition to Hybrid Air technology, the Citroën Cactus showcases "Airbump" body protection
The Peugeot Hybrid Air concept at IAA 2013 in Frankfurt
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The Peugeot Hybrid Air concept at IAA 2013 in Frankfurt
The concept here isn't the car so much as the compressed air-based hybrid powertrain
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The concept here isn't the car so much as the compressed air-based hybrid powertrain
The Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe at the 2013 LA Auto Show
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The Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe at the 2013 LA Auto Show
Not only does the CrossBlue Coupe look different in LA, it has an updated spec sheet
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Not only does the CrossBlue Coupe look different in LA, it has an updated spec sheet
The latest CrossBlue specs include 70 mpg-e and 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds
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The latest CrossBlue specs include 70 mpg-e and 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds
The Mitsubishi GR-HEV uses a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain
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The Mitsubishi GR-HEV uses a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain
The GR-HEV is a "4WD Sport Utility HEV Truck"
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The GR-HEV is a "4WD Sport Utility HEV Truck"
Mitsubishi debuts the GR-HEV at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
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Mitsubishi debuts the GR-HEV at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
Mitsubishi debuts the GR-HEV at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
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Mitsubishi debuts the GR-HEV at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
The GR-HEV concept was designed with a target of 149 g/km
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The GR-HEV concept was designed with a target of 149 g/km
Toyota's i-Road is a two-seat three-wheeler
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Toyota's i-Road is a two-seat three-wheeler
Toyota debuted the i-Road at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
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Toyota debuted the i-Road at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
With a narrow, two-wheel front track and tilting action, the i-Road acts like a two-wheel motorcycle
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With a narrow, two-wheel front track and tilting action, the i-Road acts like a two-wheel motorcycle
The i-Road seats two in an enclosed cabin
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The i-Road seats two in an enclosed cabin
Toyota plans to build a fleet of i-Roads for testing
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Toyota plans to build a fleet of i-Roads for testing
The Daihatsu FC Deco Deck debuts at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show
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The Daihatsu FC Deco Deck debuts at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show
The FC Deco Deck uses a precious metal-free liquid fuel cell
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The FC Deco Deck uses a precious metal-free liquid fuel cell
The FC Deco Deck concept has an onboard generator for emergency use
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The FC Deco Deck concept has an onboard generator for emergency use
The 2013 Buick Riviera PHEV concept
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The 2013 Buick Riviera PHEV concept
The highlight of the Buick Riviera concept is its integrated wireless charging
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The highlight of the Buick Riviera concept is its integrated wireless charging
Buick debuts the Riviera concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show
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Buick debuts the Riviera concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show
Buick debuts the Riviera concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show
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Buick debuts the Riviera concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show
The Riviera's interior screams "concept car"
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The Riviera's interior screams "concept car"
The Riviera has a set of large gullwing doors
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The Riviera has a set of large gullwing doors
The Buick Riviera includes cutting edge technologies like integrated 4G connectivity and wireless charging
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The Buick Riviera includes cutting edge technologies like integrated 4G connectivity and wireless charging
Elio Motors' distinctive three-wheeler
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Elio Motors' distinctive three-wheeler
Elio Motors hopes to start selling the Elio next year
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Elio Motors hopes to start selling the Elio next year
Elio Motors has been lobbying state governments to eliminate the motorcycle requirements that apply to three-wheeled vehicles like the Elio
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Elio Motors has been lobbying state governments to eliminate the motorcycle requirements that apply to three-wheeled vehicles like the Elio
Elio advertises up to 84 mpg from a three-cylinder powertrain
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Elio advertises up to 84 mpg from a three-cylinder powertrain
Elio Motors says it will offer its first three-wheeler for US$6,800
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Elio Motors says it will offer its first three-wheeler for US$6,800
The Nissan BladeGlider's unique shape was inspired by aircraft
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The Nissan BladeGlider's unique shape was inspired by aircraft
Nissan says the BladeGlider offers superior maneuverability and thrilling driving
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Nissan says the BladeGlider offers superior maneuverability and thrilling driving
More than just a green car, the BladeGlider is a fun performer
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More than just a green car, the BladeGlider is a fun performer
The BladeGlider design brings exhilaration to road and track
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The BladeGlider design brings exhilaration to road and track
The BladeGlider uses an unspecified electric powertrain
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The BladeGlider uses an unspecified electric powertrain
The Toyota Yaris R is a hybrid hot hatch built for road and track
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The Toyota Yaris R is a hybrid hot hatch built for road and track
Toyota debuted the Yaris Hybrid R at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
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Toyota debuted the Yaris Hybrid R at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
A super capacitor stores and releases quick bursts of electric power
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A super capacitor stores and releases quick bursts of electric power
The Yaris' rear-mounted electric motors add boosting power to the 300-hp turbo engine
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The Yaris' rear-mounted electric motors add boosting power to the 300-hp turbo engine
The Hybrid Air powertrain stores energy in the form of compressed air
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The Hybrid Air powertrain stores energy in the form of compressed air
The narrow air tank is centrally mounted, making it easier to build and space around
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The narrow air tank is centrally mounted, making it easier to build and space around
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Gizmag takes a look at our favorite eco-friendly concept cars from the past 12 months
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Gizmag takes a look at our favorite eco-friendly concept cars from the past 12 months

As we wind down toward the end of another year, it's time to take a look back at some of the innovations that helped make 2013 a big year for green car technology. Highly anticipated cars like the Porsche 918 Spyder and Cadillac ELR made their debuts, while green concept cars provided a peek at what the future holds. Our favorite eco-friendly concepts from the past 12 months rethink power technologies, aerodynamics and architecture to push fuel economies into the triple digits.

Peugeot Hybrid Air

The Peugeot Hybrid Air concept at IAA 2013 in Frankfurt
The Peugeot Hybrid Air concept at IAA 2013 in Frankfurt

One of the earliest green concepts of 2013, the Peugeot Hybrid Air was also one of the most interesting. Putting a different spin on hybrid technology, the powetrain uses a long, tubular compressed air tank in place of batteries for energy storage. That air tank powers a hydraulic motor-pump, which assists a gas engine in three modes: zero-emissions, air-powered driving, hybrid, and engine-only. The motor-pump recovers air energy during braking and deceleration, refilling the air tank. The French automaker estimates that the powertrain is capable of 2.9 l/100 km (81 mpg) and CO2 emissions of around 69 g/km.

The narrow air tank is centrally mounted, making it easier to build and space around
The narrow air tank is centrally mounted, making it easier to build and space around

In addition to detailing the layout of the powertrain in January, Peugeot Citroën revealed the Hybrid Air-powered Citroën Cactus concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. It plans to bring the technology out of its research facilities and into B-segment production cars by 2016.

VW CrossBlue Coupe

Not only does the CrossBlue Coupe look different in LA, it has an updated spec sheet
Not only does the CrossBlue Coupe look different in LA, it has an updated spec sheet

The CrossBlue Coupe made several appearances throughout the year, leading folks to speculate that Volkswagen is serious about ushering it to the market. The plug-in hybrid concept seamlessly combines fuel economy, SUV utility and zippy performance.

Volkswagen's latest specs give the CrossBlue Coupe – which really abuses the term "coupe" – 13 miles (21 km) of all-electric driving from two motors. When those motors team with the turbo V6 engine, they put out 415 horses, which inspire a 5.8-second 0-60 mph (96.5 km/h) time. VW estimates that the powertrain is capable of around 70 mpg-e and up to 570 miles (917 km/h) of range.

The CrossBlue is based on Volkswagen's new Modular Transverse Matrix and could be outfitted with various six- and four-cylinder engines, including diesel and compressed natural gas options. We won't be surprised if we hear a lot more about the concept in 2014.

The Elio

Elio advertises up to 84 mpg from a three-cylinder powertrain
Elio advertises up to 84 mpg from a three-cylinder powertrain

The Elio from Louisiana start-up Elio Motors doesn't use any type of alternative power. Instead, it uses a unique design and a small, fuel-sipping three-cylinder engine to get up to 84 mpg (2.8 l/100 km). That combination also powers the narrow three-wheeler to a respectable top speed of more than 100 mph (161 km/h) and a range of up to 672 total miles (1,081 km).

As a three-wheeled vehicle, the Elio faces some regulatory hurdles before it's available for regular use. Elio has had success in getting some US states to recognize it as a separate class of vehicle, but others apply motorcycle regulations to three-wheeled vehicles. Elio is working with the intent of launching the car in the fourth quarter of 2014 and is still quoting a price under US$7,000.

VIA Motors XTRUX

VIA Motors debuts the XTRUX concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show
VIA Motors debuts the XTRUX concept at the 2013 North American International Auto Show

Maybe it's just that we've come to expect hybrids to come in compact and subcompact packages, but it was nice to see something completely different at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. That something was the VIA Motors XTRUX, a large GM pickup truck with a range-extending 4WD powertrain.

Instead of replacing the pickup truck's V8 engine, Utah's VIA Motors puts it to work as a gas-fueled range extender. Driving the wheels are two 402-hp electric motors. The XTRUX has the power and capability of a big, burley truck, the instant torque of an electric, and the range of a gas truck. VIA says that it can get up to 40 miles (64 km) of all-electric driving and average 100 mpg-e.

The XTRUX's fate remains unclear, but VIA launched other range-extending pickup trucks and vans last month. Those models use a single 402-hp motor along with a V8 engine purposed as a range-extending generator.

Yaris Hybrid R

Toyota debuted the Yaris Hybrid R at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show
Toyota debuted the Yaris Hybrid R at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

Toyota's Yaris Hybrid R concept is a stretch of the term "green," but it is an interesting look at how hybrid technology can turn a car as mundane as the Yaris into a quick, aggressive track car. The Toyota Yaris Hybrid R debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show equipped with trickled-down racing technology. Instead of the usual lithium battery pack, the hybrid hot hatch has a super capacitor to power its two rear-mounted 60-hp electric motors. The motors assist the 300-hp turbo four-cylinder engine in delivering quick, lively AWD acceleration, and the driver controls their output with a dual-mode track/road system. The hybrid system can also alter torque to the rear wheels, providing enhanced cornering and control.

Buick Riviera

Buick debuts the Riviera concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show
Buick debuts the Riviera concept at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show

During the course of the year, GM gave Cadillac Volt-like plug-in hybrid technology in Detroit and showed what a future Buick plug-in might look like in Shanghai. While the Riviera concept, and its glacial-blue lighting and white-leather cockpit, was clearly built as a showpiece only, the technological ideas it presents may just underpin future models. Those ideas include a wireless plug-in hybrid system with a chassis-integrated recharge panel, integrated 4G connectivity and car-to-car communications.

Outside of those basic details, Buick was rather vague about the Riviera's equipment, focusing more on its design language. The concept car might influence future styling and technology, but we don't anticipate it showing up as a Buick model.

Daihatsu FC Deco Deck

The FC Deco Deck concept has an onboard generator for emergency use
The FC Deco Deck concept has an onboard generator for emergency use

Fuel cells climbed out of the shadows a little during the year, with several major manufacturers preparing for the next generation of fuel cell technology. Daihatsu showed one of the most interesting fuel cell concepts in the form of the FC Deco Deck from Tokyo. Daihatsu's liquid fuel cell eliminates the platinum used in other fuel cells, saving money and resources. It's compact enough to slide under the floor, adding space and flexibility.

The FC Deco Deck uses big visuals to advertise its big technology: a cubed cabin with wraparound-glass is planted atop a rectangular trailer chassis.

Toyota i-Road

Toyota plans to build a fleet of i-Roads for testing
Toyota plans to build a fleet of i-Roads for testing

Part tandem, three-wheeled car, part enclosed trike, the Toyota i-Road is all innovation. Toyota debuted the vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show, solving the naming dilemma with the simple term "Personal Mobility Vehicle." The design offers a narrow footprint and maneuverability comparable to a two-wheeler, with a safer, more comfortable, more weatherproof driving experience. It's powered by dual 2.7-hp front-wheel electric motors. We came out of Geneva thinking the i-Road was a crazy concept that might never be seen again, but Toyota said in September that it plans to build a limited number of i-Roads for use in its Harmonious Mobility Network trials in Toyota City, Japan beginning early next year.

Mitsubishi Concept GR-HEV

Mitsubishi debuts the GR-HEV at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show
Mitsubishi debuts the GR-HEV at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show

From its sleek, modernized pickup car form to its diesel-hybrid powertrain, the Mitsubishi Concept GR-HEV is a future look that we want to drive right now. The Geneva-debuted concept is powered by a 2.5-liter diesel engine and electric motors, which work with a full-time 4WD system. Mitsubishi claims that the concept puffs out just 149 g/km while cruising from city to worksite.

Mitsubishi didn't say whether or not Geneva was a stop on the way toward GR-HEV production, but the concept was one of several hybrid and electric concepts that Mitsubishi showed in Geneva and Tokyo, so we anticipate more electric power in its future line-up.

Nissan BladeGlider

The Nissan BladeGlider's unique shape was inspired by aircraft
The Nissan BladeGlider's unique shape was inspired by aircraft

One of the most intriguing concepts of 2013 from every angle, the Nissan BladeGlider reteaches everything we thought we learned about car design. Nissan's design team wiped the slate clean and drew influence from aircraft and racers like the ZEOD RC to design a new type of street car. That car is a rolling triangle with a 1-m (3.3-ft) front track and widened rear track, a platform that delivers superior aerodynamic performance and increased maneuverability. The car's unique shape and CFRP construction allow the RWD, in-wheel electric powertrain to deliver an efficient but exhilarating ride.

During its Tokyo debut, the BladeGlider's future seemed optimistic. Nissan used language like "when BladeGlider matures into a production car" and "exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle." Later in the month, however, the design became the subject of a lawsuit filed by Nissan's DeltaWing partner Delta Wing Project 56, throwing its future in doubt.

15 comments
Nairda
Electric motor assist is always good for the simplicity of it, and for the huge torque available at low RPM. It is essentially the poor man's supercharger, and will be used to great effect in creating some really amazing road rockets in times to come. For the short term, success for hybrids will come to those designs that are affordable but don't radically change the behavior of the driver in the negative. 200mpg might be acceptable, but if you can't go on a freeway due to poor acceleration or limited top speed then you have a fail. Similarly the appearance of the vehicle, (a topic discussed many times before) where designers are hell bent on making a hybrid look radically different from a normal car. If you expect people to accept a new technology under the hood and they have reservations (because of the often higher price tag), then you don't make it pink and put shark fins on it and say this is what you will drive. You give them a normal looking sedan or family car and ease them into it. For the ideas and designs above, I like the hybrid air. I'm just curious how they absorb and recover the heat generated from compressing the air. Or possibly they may not. But this is an example to me of a normal looking car using sustainable technology (non rare earth, simple steel construction) to provide hybrid functionality. And its safer then LiPo, acid or hydrogen. Only deficiency being the density of energy possible before the pressure requirements are too high to do it safely.
Frank Kemper
As one can clearly see from the brand signs on the hubcaps, the Peugeot Hybrid Air is not a Peugeot but a Citroen. Although Peugeot aquired Citroen in the mid 1970's, both brands are run quite separately. The conpany which stands for both brands is known as PSA. Just recently PSA started a cooperation with GM and has announced three different car projects which will be built in Europe. As far as I know PSA also seeks cooperation with GM on the field of electric mobility.
Slowburn
While the torque availability is nice in electric motors the need for rare earth elements and cost is strongly negative. Pneumatic or flywheel energy storage can store energy faster at lower cost and 2 counter rotating flywheels can provide gyroscopic stabilization that make 2 or even 1 wheel cars workable.
BigGoofyGuy
I think the Elio is not only cool and green but affordable, even if they sell for about $9,000.00. I hope they succede in getting it made. One can reserve one. http://www.eliomotors.com
Frik Linde
The world does not need hybrids that still use fossil fuels, but new clean energy consuming vehicles.
Ed temple
The Messerscmidt (sp). From back in the 60's had three wheels. A teacher at my high school drove one and sometimes the kids would pick it up and hide it behind the bushes. I assume it was made by the same company that made the ME109, bane to the B17's and the RAF. Maybe they had the clout to have it be street legal here. We know they never really lost their power or influence.
Neil Larkins
I agree with Nairda and Slowburn. The hybrid air concept is better in that it eliminates the need for rare earths used in the motors and needs no batteries, which have a number of environmental issues that are added to the problem of fossil fuel use. Hope it's successful in the marketplace and other makers see the advantage and jump on the bandwagon.
Mark Klapheke
In the Nissan BladeGlider's article, "the design became the subject of a lawsuit filed by Nissan's DeltaWing partner Delta Wing Project 56", statement... is ridiculous. When I was a kid, 40+ years ago, we all built "cars" out of what ever we could savage from worn-out lawn mowers, left over wood and parts from bikes. We experimented with both overly wide front axles for quick turning, or wide rear ends to increase stability. Neither of these "delta" shapes, either coming or going is new. I would love to see pictures or old sketches, from guys or gals between the ages of 30 to 90, sitting in their home brewed, human powered carts. Not everybody had the money to build a Soap Box Derby cart and the imagination of the children we were, was unlimited. There are some sites that show just this type of carts I am describing. Go to your favorite search engine and type in "down hill carts" and you will see what I am talking about.
Slowburn
@ Frik Linde Please define clean. Diesel engines can be configured to be clean enough to use in shaft mines without poisoning the miners.
Lewis M. Dickens III
Looks like the 3 wheeled nutcases will never accept that using 3 wheels is so dangerous that it's nutty. Bob Lutz is behind the VIA vehicles so you know that this is the Real Deal. These are Great Trucks. And better looking than the off the shelf GM stuff. Bill