In the News - ELF: Is it a bike, is it a car?

In the News - ELF: Is it a bike, is it a car?

Three eco-minded Motueka businesses have joined forces to buy New Zealand's first ELF.

The ELF, which stands for "Electric, Light, Fun" is halfway between a car and a bike, and is powered by a combination of battery, solar panels and pedal power.

Only four ELFs have been imported into New Zealand and Duncan Abrey of the Natural House Company saw the first one being unwrapped at the Auckland Go Green Expo and purchased it on the spot.

He convinced two other Motueka businesses, Bell Stephenson Architects and Image Creators, to split the $15,000 cost and they plan to alternate use of the ELF.

 "They are a beautiful solution for around town travel in all weather. Like most people, the majority of our car journeys are no more than a few kilometres, and it feels wasteful running a car for those short trips. Now with the ELF we can still travel in comfort, deliver goods, get a little exercise and do our bit to help the planet," said Abrey.

The ELF is manufactured by an American start-up called Organic Transit, and imported by quikes.co.nz.  The three-wheeled vehicle is built around a capsule that protects the rider from the elements, lets them sit, and store luggage in the back.

The ELF can travel around 25 kilometres on one charge, reach speeds up to 30 kilometres per hour and is available in a three-seater version for picking the kids up from school. Legally the ELF is a bike so they can be used on cycleways, they require no license, no registration and use no petrol.

Architect Gabrielle Bell said her business partners wanted to be part owners because they were always looking for more environmentally friendly ways to do things.

"What surprised me the most was the fun aspect, the ELF is comfortable and nippy and exhilarating all at the same time, and it's hard not to smile when riding around."

She said the 300 watt motor kept it within cycle limits but it was designed to be "pedal-assisted".

"You don't have to break a sweat if you don't want to."

Andy Lowe from Image Creators designed and applied the graphics and is hopeful of finding other entrepreneurs willing to promote both the ELF and their business at the same time.

 "I am looking forward to zipping around town doing small jobs in the ELF. I just need to figure out how to attach my ladder."

He said it often made no sense to use his "diesel-guzzling Land Cruiser" if he just needed to make a quote.

The standard model starts at about $10,000. Abrey said the price will fall once they are imported in bigger numbers and can be assembled in New Zealand.

"They need early adopters like us, willing to pay that premium so they have the confidence to ramp up numbers and get the price down."

 - Stuff

 With the first ELF sold in New Zealand are Motueka owners, from left, Petra Stephenson, Andrew Stephenson, Andy Lowe, Gabrielle Bell, Duncan Abrey, and Jody Lowe.

With the first ELF sold in New Zealand are Motueka owners, from left, Petra Stephenson, Andrew Stephenson, Andy Lowe, Gabrielle Bell, Duncan Abrey, and Jody Lowe.