“The MLM fills that gap between the e-bike and the car.”
— Jonathan Miller, Arcimoto
According to Eugene-based electric vehicle company Arcimoto, the future of mobility is here, and it’s codename is “Mean Lean Machine” (MLM). The MLM is a three-wheeled electric vehicle with full-suspension that Arcimoto debuted last week.
The three wheels keep it stable, but this e-trike stands out of the pack because it’s built to tilt. Thanks to Arcimoto’s acquisition of Tilting Motor Works, the company built some pretty neat leaning technology into the design. A promo video (below) shows an MLM rider weaving down steep hills with apparent ease.
(The larger FUV on the left, MLM specs on the right.)
Arcimoto was founded in 2007 by tech entrepreneur Mark Frohnmayer to fill the niche of small electric vehicles. After years of development, the company released its Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV, above) in 2019, and has other offerings coming soon (including an electric pick-up truck that looks a lot more like a golf cart than any of the massive e-trucks we’re seeing on the market these days).
“Cars are way too big and inefficient for the job of everyday driving.”
— Jonathan Miller, Arcimoto
The FUV is a small, motorcycle-class two-seater EV designed to replace short car trips. Much closer to a golf cart than a bike, it serves as a middle ground between a larger electric vehicle like a Tesla and the standard e-bikes we usually cover on BikePortland.
Arcimoto is headed in a new direction with the MLM. This e-trike can fit two people, but its specs will be more in line with a traditional e-bike than anything Arcimoto has released in the past. Interestingly, it looks like you can use it as a Peloton-style stationary bike while you’re waiting for it to charge.
Since most people taking car trips are only going a short distance and are often traveling alone, this is a market many micromobility companies like Arcimoto think they can squeeze into.
“Cars are way too big and inefficient for the job of everyday driving,” Arcimoto’s Director of Communications Jonathan Miller told me in a recent interview. “The MLM fills that gap between the e-bike and the car,” Miller says. “We think this offering is going to be really unique on the market. There’s definitely a place for this.”
In a video showing off the new concept product, Frohnmayer says for the same amount of material it takes to build on Hummer, two Teslas or eight FUVs, you can build 100 MLMs.
“This is a point I really want to hammer home,” Frohnmayer says. “For transportation, micromobility is sustainability.”
The complete details on the specs of the MLMs are still up in the air, but according to Arcimoto it will have a range of more than 200 miles with auxiliary batteries. This is a lot farther than your standard e-bike can take you on a single charge.
We’ve looked at the need for more e-bike charging stations in order to get people to start actually being able to substitute their cars for electric bikes, but a range like this would solve a lot of those problems.
In a press release announcing the MLM, Frohnmayer says he sees this development as a groundbreaking step in the e-bike and micromobility world. “The Mean Lean Machine reflects Arcimoto’s commitment to push the envelope of sustainable mobility,” Frohnmayer says.
Frohnmayer also says the MLM will be the first step in Arcimoto’s new “Platform 2” initiative, which will include the smaller EV products like e-bikes, scooters and electrified wheelchairs.
One crucial piece of information we don’t know yet however, is how much customers will have to shell out for this e-trike. The cost of e-bikes – and lack of the kind of government subsidies people who buy electric cars have access to – is already a big impediment to mass usage. Oregon House Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) said she plans to sponsor an e-bike incentive bill in 2023. Power also recently announced she will resign from the legislature at the end of this session and we’ve heard from Rep. Dacia Grayber (D-Tigard) that she will take up the cause.
As of now, you can put down a refundable $100 deposit to get your name on the preorder list for when this interesting e-trike is available for purchase, which is expected to be at the end of the year. Learn more about the MLM on Arcimoto’s website.