The DeltaWing racer has been in the news more for the lawsuit against Nissan than any on-track successes the past year. Even as the legal wrangling continues, DeltaWing Technologies is moving forward with a plan to design and build a $15,000 electric three-wheeler in Georgia with an emphasis on car sharing over personal ownership.
Atlanta’s NPR outlet WABE reports that DeltaWing Technologies is currently considering building an assembly plant for its as-yet-unnamed and undesigned three-wheeled vehicle. There’s not even a planned timeline for production, though the program will emphasize car sharing over consumer sales. The idea is to build an all-electric ZipCar-like program based around an affordable three-wheeler, presumably borrowing from the design of the unique DeltaWing race car.
The DeltaWing burst onto the motorsports scene with a design straight out of the pages of science fiction that common sense dictates shouldn’t work, but does. The DeltaWing is was able to keep pace with some of the fastest cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (at least for awhile) despite using a motor half as powerful. That’s because the DeltaWing weighed less, needed fewer tire changes, and got much better fuel economy that let it stay out on the track for longer than competitors. The idea was to build a more efficient race car that sacrificed nothing in terms of performance, and it did just that.
Unfortunately the success of the DeltaWing has been mired in controversy since owner Don Panoz took to publicy slamming former partner Nissan, which debuted it’s own DeltaWing-like race car, the ZEOD RC, while also poaching the DeltaWing’s actual designer, Ben Bowlby. The drama of the DeltaWing has played out more in the courtroom than the racetrack lately, and and this is at least the second time the company has trotted out plans for a road-legal vehicle.
I will say that a car-sharing program based around the three-wheeler might actually be the way to go, serving tourists, college students, and those who just don’t think it’s prudent to own a car in the big city. Elio Motors has received thousands of reservations for its own three-wheeler, and perhaps that has influenced DeltaWing’s decision to go that route.
But will it ever pan out, or are renderings the closest to road-legal the DeltaWing design will ever get?