Carver One – What is It? Car or Motorcycle?
A few months ago, we stumbled upon a European website for the Carver One. The website waxes ecstatic… “Here is something that will make you go out of your way to find curvy roads: the Carver One! You steer it like a car, but when cornering it banks like a motorcycle while you feel like you are flying a jetfighter. The thrill of this tilting capability combined with the handling of a sports car makes for an exhilarating driving experience unlike any other!”
Pretty persuasive, huh?
Well, being the vehicle junkies that we are, VehicleVoice and AutoPacific staffers wanted the chance to drive one. As luck would have it, a Carver One made its way to a secret location in Southern California on a glorious January day and we had the chance to drive a survival orange Carver One around an almost deserted office park.
We were wondering if the Carver One was a car or a motorcycle or something in between? When we first saw the “vehicle” in the plastic, we were surprised as how big it is. The photos and videos in the Carver-Europe website conveyed a much smaller size than actual.
As we were ogling the Carver One, a pedestrian wandered by on his lunch time constitutional. He was 6′ 6″ tall. That he could get into and out of the Carver One without too much trouble shows its size and accommodation. It’s actually pretty tall with a sweeping roofline that provides good headroom for the driver.
Ah, yes. The driver. The Carver One has tandem seating. This is what gives you the idea that it is more of a motorcycle than a car. There is room for a passenger riding behind the driver, but the passenger needs to ride akimbo the driver. That is his or her feet will be resting just about where the driver’s elbows are.
There is one door on the left/driver’s side of the vehicle. The door is plenty big enough for the driver to get into and out of, but no one tried to get in the rear seat. The rear seat seemed large enough for a child at the biggest. Windows on both sides roll down about 80% into the door/bodyside.
Unlike a motorcycle, the Carver One has a conventional steering wheel, accelerator pedal, brake and clutch pedals. This particular example is powered by a Daihatsu 660cc 3-cylinder engine. It has a 5-speed manual transmission. There is a heater and defroster and a single windshield wiper for the windscreen. As a fully enclosed vehicle the driver and passenger likely would not be required to wear motorcycle helmets.
So, What’s It Like to Ride/Drive?
I don’t know if you should refer to the experience as riding or driving? If the Carver One is a motorcycle, I’d say I was riding it. But it’s fully enclosed and has those car-like controls. That makes me feel like I am driving it. I guess you could “drive” a motorcycle, but it’s not a term I would normally use. But I did feel like I was “driving” the Carver
The Carver One is certainly different from a motorcycle in its feel. Where your body lean tilts a motorcycle when cornering, the Carver’s electronics and hydraulics determine when the vehicle should lean. At very low speeds, the vehicle leans very quickly. Seems like some calibration is needed to make the movement more seamless. When at speed, the dynamics of the Carver One can be exhilarating. Different from a motorcycle, but similar at the same time.
Who Would Drive a Carver?
This is the question. In Europe the price of a Carver One is on the order of $45,000. This puts it out of the range of all but a small group is enthusiasts. If the price were substantially lower, the Carver could appeal to a wide range of folks. You’d think the natural audience would be people who would really enjoy an exhilarating driving experience or folks who live in very congested areas like densely populated cities or universities. With a slightly larger rear seat or rear cargo area, Carver would be ideal for pizza delivery or courier services.
Time will tell.