Three-wheel vehicles like Elio: Who makes the rules?

Michael James

The Cirbin V13R three-wheeler introduced in 2008.

With all the recent news of the pending debut of Elio Motors’ three-wheeler, the rules and other considerations governing three-wheel vehicles of all types has also been rekindled.

Are three-wheelers legal? How are they registered and titled? What kind of license is required to operate a three-wheeler? Who makes the rules? Do they have airbags? Can they be operated on the freeway?

Last November, the American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators (AAMVA), a national authority on best policy for all state DMVs and Licensing Bureaus, recommended the Elio be driven with a standard driver’s license.

The Cirbin V13R three-wheeler introduced in 2008.
The Cirbin V13R three-wheeler introduced in 2008.

In that regard, The AAMVA released their new “Best Practices” policy on licensing and registration of three-wheel vehicles certified as motorcycles by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The policy is available via a PDF file and the AAMVA also has an informational video about their recommendations.

The AAMVA is recommending only a regular passenger car driver’s license be required to operate a three-wheel, fully enclosed vehicle with automotive controls like the Elio. There are other, less publicized three-wheel manufacturers, too.

The AAMVA also recommends a motorcycle plate be used on the back of the Elio, instead of the larger automobile plate, since the Elio will be registered as a motorcycle or an Autocycle.

Utilizing the motorcycle plate will help drivers avoid problems with HOV lane enforcement and tolls, which have different requirements for motorcycles.

The yet-unnamed Elio Motors’ three-wheel vehicle boasts 84 mpg on the highway and 49 mpg in the city, plus an anticipated 5-star safety rating. Its advertised cost is $6,800.

For more information about the AAMVA, view the video below.

For more information about Elio Motors, visit: www.eliomotors.com.

Article Last Updated: April 22, 2014.

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