Danwei directed us to the embedded six-month old video of a short local NBC News piece on a Chinese-made three-wheel “car” available from a dealer in Webster, New York (it’s actually available in several places in the U.S., like Michigan). The Webster dealer (we think this is his MySpace page … yes, MySpace) claims women love the Wildfire WF650-C. The jury is still out on that one.
The WF650-C does, though, supposedly get up to 70 miles per gallon. For that, you have to forfeit a wheel, some power and also a little safety, according to this January 2009 review in Car and Driver:
The three-wheeled Wildfire is licensed as a motorcycle and is thus exempt from a lot of safety regs such as airbags and side-impact beams. It doesn’t have a lap belt, either, but it does include a shoulder belt and three features the Bugatti failed to offer: a cigarette lighter, an ashtray, and a pop-up skylight whose leading edge, oddly enough, performs the popping-up part. In that position, it scoops up all of the ventilation you’ll ever need, as well as all of the bees you’ll ever need, every last one of which has had its anger receptors presensitized by, first, a violent collision with Chinese glass and, second, a violent collision with your forehead.
Here are the basics: The Wildfire WF650-C is one foot longer than a Smart Fortwo Passion but weighs more than 1000 pounds less. It is powered by a 650cc, liquid-cooled four-stroke two-cylinder whose output—identical to a Sears Craftsman 27691 riding mower’s—is funneled through a four-speed manual transmission whose linkage is uncanny in its ability to drop flying monkeys on third gear, banishing it to the skies of Oz. (A CVT might have been more useful.) The warranty is two years or 24,000 miles.
Our Wildfire covers the quarter-mile in 27.3 seconds at 48 mph. It cruises most happily at about 40 mph—roughly where third gear tops out—which takes 17 seconds to attain. There’s no tach. You just shift when revs stop climbing. We once got the Wildfire up to 65 mph before it was time to pause for lunch, a meal made less palatable by a trike trait you probably never considered: When you have wheels at both sides and one in the middle, it is tricky to avoid dead animals.
Reading that made us realize we don’t know much about cars.
You can find the official Wildfire Motors website here — not all of their vehicles have three wheels.
Not sure exactly where in China Wildfires are made or what Chinese company makes them. UPDATE: We found a PDF that says the three-wheeler is “manufactured by Taixing Sandi Motorcycle Co Ltd, sold by Wildfire Motors.” Taixing is in Jiangsu and here is the Sandi website.