Hot Three Wheeler Wants To Go Hybrid

Think of the three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder Roadster as a motorcycle that can’t fall over. With two wheels in front and one in the back, in shape it resembles a snowmobile, which isn’t surprising given that its Canadian manufacturer, BRP, makes the Ski-Doo brand.

The Spyder Roadster made something of a splash when it was launched in 2007 – the New York Times wrote it up, calling the machine a “tricycle for adult situations” – and now it’s reclaiming a little buzz: The Centre de Technologies Avancees (CTA), which itself is a partnership between the University of Sherbrooke and BRP, will get $6.2 million from a Canadian government program and $5.1 million from BRP to turn the vehicle into an electric hybrid.

Can-Am Spyder Roadster electric hybrid

image via BRP

Ho-hum, just another hybrid? Not really, CTA said, noting that the Spyder Roadster’s compact size introduces big design issues. After all, this is more a motorcycle than it is a car.

“Creating a three-wheel vehicle as opposed to a hybrid car poses significant design challenges that require a very high degree of innovation,” said Professor Alain Desrochers, who will lead the team working on the project. “These challenges include the lack of space to accommodate hybrid motorization, cooling problems, aerodynamics, vehicle weight, and noise. Everything must be studied and modified.”

Well, if everything must be studied, they might want to take a look at this concept we reported on last year, if only for inspiration; it shares that two-in-front architecture of the Sypder Roadster.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.