City Driving in an Electric Mini-Car

The Shipps Sportster, an electric mini-car, is great for city driving, but because of government regulations, it is harder to find mini-vehicles.

| March/April 1978

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    Both the moped shown here and the electric mini-car are classed as motorized bicycles and used for city driving. Actually, though, the 825-pound mini-car uses less energy per mile than does the 150-mpg, 100-pound moped!

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California aerospace engineer Paul R. Shipps has had long and varied experience in the design, development and testing of rockets, aircraft and other advanced vehicles.

Six years ago, when Paul started his own small advanced-vehicle design, consultation and testing business — however — he had something more down-to-earth in mind: the creation of energy-efficient, environmentally kind, day-to-day personal transportation that allows for city driving. 

In recent months, Paul says, even this work has been slowed in order to allow for the attack on a still more urgent problem: the rapidly multiplying government regulations which have already made the use of innovative and efficient mini-vehicles like the ones he has in mind nearly impossible in this country.

Paul's written a $3 booklet, Electric Mini-Cars for Urban Driving, which began as an educational handbook on electric cars, efficient energy use and small car safety. As it turned out though, the fact-filled publication is also an exposé of our nation's poorly-thought-out vehicle safety regulations.

At present, only one Shipps-designed mini-car — the three-wheel, 2.5-horsepower, maximum-30-mph "Sportster" — qualifies for marketing. Paul expects to have plans for the vehicle available (for $15). And he'll soon be offering three-part kits which can be assembled into your own Sportster at a total cost of about $1,200 (excluding batteries). With the kits will come full-size template blueprints to simplify construction for the amateur.

Paul estimates that it will take one individual three months of spare time to put together one of his mini-cars.

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