CHAMPAIGN – Folks intrigued by innovative electric vehicles can see three of them Sunday in the Fourth of July Parade in Champaign-Urbana.
The most unusual is the TW4XP electric vehicle, made by Fine Mobile of Germany. That vehicle recently qualified as one of 15 finalists in the Progressive Automotive X-Prize competition in Michigan. The competition pits super fuel-efficient vehicles against each other.
The three-wheeled TW4XP can go as fast as 70 miles per hour and gets 100 miles per gallon, according to Martin Moscheid, the chief executive officer of Fine Mobile. His brother, Wolfgang, will drive the vehicle in Sunday's parade.
Parade-goers can also see a TWIKE, driven by Matt Childress of Champaign and made by the same German company. About 960 of those vehicles have been sold worldwide, most of them in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Twenty or so are in the United States.
The third electric vehicle will be the EC3 prototype developed by Sugar Rides, a local company co-founded by Randy Reisinger, Bryan Wilcox, Mercedes Mane and Keeley Kabala.
Reisinger and Moscheid announced Friday they have agreed in principle that Sugar Rides will provide maintenance and repair services for Fine Mobile vehicles sold in the United States.
Sugar Rides will have a "mobile service center" – an outfitted truck and trailer – that will schedule visits to cities where TWIKE owners live, Reisinger said.
The mobile center is also expected to service Sugar Rides vehicles once they're on the market, he added.
Moscheid said the TW4XP was one of about 130 vehicles that entered the Automotive X-Prize competition and one of 15 finalists that emerged from the initial rounds.
The finals begin July 19 in Michigan and last about two weeks. The finalists fall into three categories: mainstream vehicles, alternative side-by-side vehicles and alternative tandem vehicles.
The winner of the mainstream category stands to win $5 million, and only two vehicles remain in contention in that category.
The winners of the other two categories stand to win $2.5 million each. The TW4XP is one of eight finalists in the alternative side-by-side category, and five finalists remain in the alternative tandem category.
Moscheid said Fine Mobile plans to bring the TW4XP onto the market next year.
Reisinger said two of the three electric vehicles appeared in Geneva, Wis., recently and were well-received. They are scheduled to appear at events in Milwaukee and Ohio later this month.
As for the EC3 vehicle, Reisinger said Sugar Rides has started designing a pre-production version. He said an expanded team is working on "a different look" and making a few changes to the drive train.
More information about the TW4XP is available online.