FUV - Fun Utility Vehicle
Is the Arcimoto FUV cool in a strange sort of way, or is it strange in a cool sort of way?
By Reed Berry
Fri, Jul 8, 2022 12:43 PM PST
Is the vehicle I'm driving cool in a strange sort of way, or is it strange in a cool sort of way? I can't decide but, either way, I'm enjoying my experience in the Arcimoto FUV, which stands for Fun Utility Vehicle.
Ever since I first saw this three-wheeled, futuristic driving pod, I've been anxious to get behind the wheel - it looked like it would be fun. After all, it does have fun in its name and, so far, it is living up to the clever acronym. As mentioned, the U in FUV stands for Utility, and that's what this vehicle really is. A small, practical, electric-powered utility vehicle that is perfect for shorter trips and around-town use.
Pick One Friend - There Are Only Two Seats
Don't plan on inviting all your friends to go for a ride at the same time, however. The Arcimoto FUV seats only two people. The driver and one passenger sit in tandem, straddling the battery compartment, giving the FUV it's slender profile. Seating is fairly comfortable and, with a big windshield, clear roof and no doors, visibility is outstanding. Unlike a conventional automobile, the front wheels are quite a bit wider than the FUV's cockpit, something that must be taken into consideration while driving.
One of the most noticeable things upon entering the Arcimoto FUV is that you don't have a steering wheel, you have handlebars. After a brief "What's going on here?" moment (aka a "WTF-moment"), I quickly placed my hands on the grips and readied myself for today's drive. My right hand controls the throttle and direction of movement, while my left hand activates the turn signal switch. After turning, push the button to cancel the turn signal. Easy peasy!
Getting Up And Running In The Arcimoto
But first things first. Just as in any vehicle, I must make sure that I am buckled securely. In the FUV, that involves two shoulder belts that cross the body from opposite directions. Most of us would be tempted to buckle just one belt as is customary in a regular vehicle (I know I was). In this little doorless wonder, however, you must buckle both to avoid being tossed out of the vehicle in the event of a sharp turn.
Considering the diminutive design of the FUV, there are quite a few controls to familiarize yourself with before driving. In order to start the vehicle, you must first make sure the direction switch is in neutral, then either insert the barrel-type ignition key or enter a PIN code on the touch screen. Next, you hold down the foot brake as you press a switch on the left handlebar. Am I ready to drive now? Nope. I still have to release the parking brake and move the direction switch to forward or reverse on a control next to the right-hand grip.
Now, I'm ready to roll. I move the switch to forward, designated by an arrow pointing up, and carefully turn the accelerator (right hand grip) toward myself. The FUV starts to move and, to be quite honest, the acceleration is much quicker than anticipated. I expected the FUV to have about as much power as the poky little golf carts I've driven on Catalina Island, but this thing can move! After all, the FUV can be driven at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.
Let The Outside In
The design truly brings the outside in, and I feel as if I'm part of the environment in which I'm driving. The sights, sounds and even weather conditions, are literally right in my face as I breeze along the streets of Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles. I'm sure the late Harry Culver, founder of Culver City, never envisioned people riding around these parts in such a unique, eye-catching contraption.
To be honest, I'm getting a bit hungry. Not that I'm working up an appetite driving the FUV, but because of the aroma coming from my favorite chicken place, Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, which just happens to be right across the street from where I'm driving.
Electric Power And Speed
The FUV has plenty of power from its dual electric motors, and I can even put a little energy back into the battery as I drive using the regen lever under the throttle. Using the regen lever slows the vehicle without stopping it and, in doing so, I can utilize the kinetic energy from the moving vehicle to recharge the batteries a bit while driving. This would be especially helpful when driving down a hill, for example, while needing to slow the vehicle. Using the regen lever instead of the foot break will allow you to decrease your speed while charging the battery and extending your driving range.
As for charging, the Arcimoto FUV is a ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) that is powered only by electricity. The easiest way for homeowners to charge it is to plug it into a standard 110V AC outlet overnight, so it's fully charged and ready to use the next day. A full charge takes around eight hours. If you live in an apartment building or condo complex, you'll need to locate a public Level 2 charger (not "fast charger") and a full charge will take around four hours, according to Arcimoto's website.
Features And Options
But how does this vehicle fare in inclement weather? I didn't have a chance to experience it (we're in L.A. after all) during my drive as it is warm and sunny today but, apparently, the vehicle has been designed to channel water away on rainy days so only a minimum of water gets inside the cockpit. Adding the optional west coast half-doors would certainly be of benefit in this situation, as well. A large, single windshield wiper allows you to see the road ahead clearly in wet weather.
While the FUV is small and fairly easy to operate, it does have some really nice features that I didn't expect, such as a clear panoramic roof, heated seats and grips, and Bluetooth speakers through which I can stream my favorite tunes. There are some optional items I would highly recommend, such as a cup holder and a cell phone mount. They both make the drive a little easier and more fun.
Another optional item I would suggest is a lockable storage compartment at the rear of the vehicle. There's one on my test vehicle but I almost didn't realize it was there because it blends so seamlessly into the body design. It's not huge, but it's spacious enough for a briefcase, small travel bag or a couple bags of groceries. Definitely a must-have, in my opinion.
In addition to the FUV, Arcimoto uses the same platform for two other interesting and super-functional models, The Deliverator and The Rapid Responder. The Deliverator has a spacious compartment behind the driver instead of a rear seat. It is designed to be a practical, low-cost way to deliver food orders, merchandise and other light deliveries. The Rapid Responder allows emergency personnel to respond quickly and efficiently in emergency situations, while reducing operating costs.
While I'm not a huge fan of the blue I'm driving today, the FUV is available in a variety of eye-catching colors. Between the striking colors and the unique appearance of the vehicle itself, you will definitely get some looks as you travel the streets in this thing and, personally, I like the attention I'm getting today.
This Is A Motorcycle
The main thing to remember, however, when driving the FUV is that it is NOT a car. It conforms to motorcycle regulations rather than those of automobiles. Because of the enclosed frame, you are not required to wear a safety helmet here in California (and most places) but it may be required in some states, so always drive the FUV in accordance with local laws and regulations.
Summary - The Arcimoto FUV
To summarize my experience in the Arcimoto FUV, this is the type of vehicle we will all be driving someday, so why not now? The practicality of the FUV's smaller footprint on the road, the 100-mile range for around town use, and the ease of operation all make this unique vehicle quite attractive, as does the base price at under $20K. The ride isn't smooth as silk, but it doesn't need to be in a vehicle of this type. Overall, today's drive was a very positive experience. The future is here, and the future is indeed fun, in the Arcimoto FUV.
For more information on Arcimoto vehicles: arcimoto.com
About The Author
Known professionally as "The Traffic Guy," Reed Berry has been a driver safety educator for over 30 years. Reed has conducted traffic school classes and suspended license workshops throughout California, and has served as keynote speaker at safety conferences and corporate events across America. He has appeared on radio and television programs both in the U.S. and internationally to discuss safety-related issues. A contributor to LA Car since 2003, Reed Berry is a member of Motor Press Guild, the Los Angeles Press Club and SAG-AFTRA.