WJTV News Channel 12 - Durham company may be the future of urban transit

What's Next

Durham company may be the future of urban transit

Posted: Updated:
Comedian and avid car collector Jerry Seinfeld checks out an ELF at the Organic Transit headquarters in Durham. Comedian and avid car collector Jerry Seinfeld checks out an ELF at the Organic Transit headquarters in Durham.
DURHAM, N.C. -

Imagine cutting your gas bill, and getting into shape at the same time.

Meet ELF: the future of urban transportation created by Durham-based Organic Transit.

Part bike and part gas-free buggy, ELF is a solar/pedal hybrid vehicle suitable for commuting, deliveries and other local transportation needs. As the company explains, "This three-wheeled, electric-assist velomobile fills the niche between a bicycle and a car and offers advantages over both."

The vehicle is built in downtown Durham, and is made out of 45 percent recycled aluminum, all made in North Carolina.

The idea for ELF came from CEO and Organic Transit founder Rob Cotter's desire to create a car that would move him around town and save him on gas.

The ELF has a "continuously variable transmission," Cotter explained. "Kind of like an '80s speed bicycle -- it has electric power; lithium iron phosphate battery."

Development of the ELF took four years of planning and prototypes, and in November, Cotter launched a Kickstarter to fund the first batch of ELFs. Within 24 hours of launching the project, it was 25 percent funded.

In addition to scooting its passenger around town at a max speed of 30 miles per hour, the ELF also has a trunk that Cotter says can hold up to 350 pounds of cargo -- which is where its electric motor comes in handy.

"The whole time, the solar panel is charging up your batteries," Cotter said. "If you're peddling and using solar panel together in combination, you should be able to go about 30 miles."

With nine patents in place, Cotter says there is no other vehicle like it and safety is not an issue. The ELF's dashboard features gauges, LED lights, and side- and rear-view mirrors.

And because the ELF is electric and runs quiet, Cotter built in sound effects -- including a motorbike, a Jetson's car or horse galloping -- to alert other vehicles and people around.

The ELF can be ordered through the Organic Transit website, with the base model costing $4,000.

Melanie Sanders

Melanie anchors the 6 PM news. Her "What's Next" series features an engaging approach to storytelling and highlights the leaders in innovation who are shaping our future. Check it out HERE! More>>

  • Durham CountyMore>>

  • Michael Brown forum at Duke stirs emotions

    Michael Brown forum at Duke stirs emotions

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:54 PM EDT2014-09-02 03:54:34 GMT
    Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Lesley McSpadden, right, the mother of 18-year-old Michael Brown, watches as Brown's father, Michael Brown Sr., holds up a family pictureduring a news conference Aug. 11, 2014, in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
    Duke University professors lead a panel discussion about race, the role of police and how social media coverage of street protests in Ferguson Missouri shaped the Michael Brown shooting death story.
    Duke University professors lead a panel discussion about race, the role of police and how social media coverage of street protests in Ferguson Missouri shaped the Michael Brown shooting death story.
  • Granville Co. farmer donates 'ugly' corn to local charities

    Granville Co. farmer donates 'ugly' corn to local charities

    Saturday, August 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-30 21:48:11 GMT
    Nearly $3,000 worth of corn was donated to the Produce Box by farmer Gary Fuller, of Granville County.Nearly $3,000 worth of corn was donated to the Produce Box by farmer Gary Fuller, of Granville County.
    Rather than throw away thousands of ears of "ugly but good" corn, foiled after very wet summer, a local farmer chose to donate them to the needy.
    Rather than throw away thousands of ears of "ugly but good" corn, foiled after very wet summer, a local farmer chose to donate them to the needy.
  • Former Marine closes in on goal to keep coffee shop open

    Former Marine closes in on goal to keep coffee shop open

    Saturday, August 30 2014 1:50 AM EDT2014-08-30 05:50:17 GMT
    Matt Victoriano's military background influenced every aspect of his Durham coffee house and bar, Intrepid Life.Matt Victoriano's military background influenced every aspect of his Durham coffee house and bar, Intrepid Life.
    A business owner and former Marine says he may be able to keep his Durham coffee shop open after receiving an outpouring of support from the community.
    A business owner and former Marine says he may be able to keep his Durham coffee shop open after receiving an outpouring of support from the community.
Powered by WorldNow

1820 TV Road
Jackson, MS 39204

Telephone: 601.372.6311
Fax: 804.819.5569
Email: wjtvnews@wjtv.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.