Three Wheels, Side-by-Side Seating

Publish Date: 
Oct 7, 2008
By Arlo Redwine

Dealers who want to widen their selection of fuel-efficient vehicles (and who doesn't right now?) might want to take a look at the three-wheeled ScootCoupe. The 147.5cc version of the scooter, the P150, reportedly gets at least 60 mpg while having a top speed of about 55 mph.

You may be asking, "Is this yet another Chinese oddball with cheap components?"

Actually, no. The twist-and-go vehicle is made by Panther Motors Inc. in Tamarac, Fla. And nobody could call it cheap. The 2009 P150 retails for $6,799; a 49.3cc version, the P50, retails for $6,499. Dealer margins are the same: 30.8 percent.

Why are the units priced so similarly?

"We use the same body, the same suspension, the same everything in both models," explains Dominick Livoti, co-founder of Panther Motors. "So the only difference is just the size of that engine cylinder, which isn't a whole lot of cost."

Shared components include steel rollover bars, safety belts, rack-and-pinion steering, a CVT automatic transmission, 130 mm tires, 13-inch alloy wheels, linked ABS disc brakes all around, dual-wishbone front suspension, a locking trunk and glove box, and a steel frame beneath a fiberglass body that comes in four bright colors: red, green, blue and yellow.

Optional is a 100-watt amplifier mounted in the glove box and connected to waterproof speakers inside the cockpit. Riders can connect their iPod or MP3 player. Audio controls are at the handlebar. "You don't have to take your hands off the throttle to change the volume or turn it on or off," Livoti says. The entire setup adds $265 to the retail price.

Panther Motors builds the air-cooled four-stroke engines using Taiwanese GY6 blocks, Mikuni carburetors and name-brand bearings and belts. The company is willing to build the motors out to 100cc or 125cc. A California rental company, for example, opted for the 100cc engines because it wanted vehicles that were faster than the P50 but requiring less maintenance than the P150. Fewer clutch replacements, for instance.

Panther Motors has certified all the vehicles with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. (Continued)