Corbin Sparrow Lives On As Three-Wheeled Electric Car

JUL 31 2015 BY TDILLARD 16

Electra Meccanica Sparrow

Electra Meccanica Sparrow

In an interesting little piece on DigitalJournal.com, we read that a Vancouver company is building “… the Volkswagen Beetle for the 21st century,” Jerry Kroll told driving.ca’s Andrew McCredie. “After 30 minutes of driving it, you feel like you are wearing Robert Downey Jr.’s Ironman suit. You’re wearing the car. It’s the way driving should be.”

The story goes on to claim that “The Sparrow was first built by Corbin Industries way back in 1999. Kroll worked with Mike Corbin back then to bring the car to Canada…”, and that “Myers Motors bought remnants of the company, (in 2004) which were bought by Electra Meccanica to resurrect the Sparrow to get it to fly again.”

All except for one thing.  Mike Corbin, of Corbin Motors, still owns rights to the Sparrow name and many of the design rights, and is releasing the actual Sparrow 2 later this year.

Mike Corbin in the Corbin Sparrow 2 on Mt Washington, 2013 (photo: © Ernie Mills, 2013, all rights reserved)

Mike Corbin in the Corbin Sparrow on Mt Washington, 2013 (photo: © Ernie Mills, 2013, all rights reserved)

Apparently, blurring the lines in intellectual property never gets old, and somewhat shoddy reporting lives on as well.  According to our contacts at Corbin Motors, though Myers Motors bought some rights and parts, they didn’t own any rights to many parts or, more importantly, the name.

“They (Myers) had a contract that they could build out existing eggs at that time , but could not go on to make parts covered by Corbin-owned patents , nor use Sparrow name or logo, so they actually had no rights to sell to Canada.

At one point, Myers tried to make swingarms, against a Corbin patent and did receive a warning letter.”

As far as the updated (with lithium, AC motor and a slightly updated body style) “real” Sparrow 2, look for that from Corbin Motors in “… late ’15 and become available, in limited numbers , in ’16.”  …and you’ll read about that here, on InsideEVs first, according to Corbin.

Electra Meccanica has not returned our emails for comment.

For some actual reporting on the Sparrow story, don’t miss the Wired interview of Mike Corbin back in 2012, here: Sparrow 2: The Redemption of an EV Pioneer.

UPDATE: We just received word from Corbin Motors: “Jerry Kroll, of Electra Meccanica (Canadian Sparrow) and Mike Corbin are stating to talk about working together for Sparrow.”

Sparrow 2 (patented) aluminum single sided swing arm

Corbin Sparrow 2 (patented) aluminum single sided swing arm

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16 Comments on "Corbin Sparrow Lives On As Three-Wheeled Electric Car"

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Airton Azevedo

That looks like the famous HPEVS AC-50 motor used in the Wheego and other small EV conversions.

Robert Weekley

Or Maybe the AC-20 or AC-35 – http://hpevs.com/power-graphs-ac-20.htm http://hpevs.com/power-graphs-ac-35.htm
per information on the Corbin page – http://corbin.com/motors/sagallery/index.shtml “35 peak hp and 10 hp continuous duty”. At present – they don’t mention Volts, Amps, or Cells used – Pack Size (?Sx?P)!

Warren

Thanks for covering this story.

I know that Myers had talked of a two seat version, which never happened. I think two seats is the minimum for a viable production EV. Even a cramped, tandem jump seat/cargo space would do.

Unfortunately, if you lined up all the limited production, and one-off trike EV prototypes built around the world since the 1970’s oil embargo, they would reach to the moon. With modern drivetrains, and lithium batteries such vehicles make perfect sense, but with OEMs selling full sized EVs at cost or below to allow selling their ICE moneymakers, and government incentives based on battery size, instead of efficiency, these designs have little hope of success.

Anonymous

I know an old lady who lived in a shoe…..

Pushmi-Pullyu

When someone coined the term “punishment car” to refer to the type of pre-Tesla EVs that gave electric cars such a bad image, he probably had the Corbin Sparrow in mind.

I’m tempted to say that this will set the EV revolution back 20 years… but actually, it won’t.

Chip

There is a better report on evworld including a video interview with Jerry Kroll:
http://evworld.com/focus.cfm?cid=284

It turns out that Jerry is not intending to continue building the old Sparrow. Instead he is designing a new modern three wheeler:
“Jerry Kroll and Henry Reisner, have a more ambitious plan in mind: a lighter, yet still affordable reinterpretation of the Corbin Sparrow concept, code-named EMV17”.

Rick Danger

That’s exactly right. They bought out Myers Motor’s Sparrows to use as a test bed for motor/battery combinations. They are designing a new vehicle, which will include carbon fiber and weigh only 800 lbs. and won’t be called Sparrow.
Since Jerry Kroll worked with Mike Corbin back when the original Sparrow was first produced, I would imagine they will be able to work out any kinks.

Rick Danger

BTW, Corbin has been going to “actually release the Sparrow 2” for the last 3-4 years now. It’s no more “released” now than it was then.

Counter-Strike Cat

That IS the most possible aerodynamic car design for the million single diver daily work commutes, if you don’t want to lay flat on the ground.

Ambulator

Hasn’t the Corbin Sparrow always been a “three-wheeled electric car”?

Warren

Yes. The writer doesn’t have a clue. Corbin did a series of prototypes, after the Sparrow was out, with two and three cylinder gas engines. Its all on his website, along with lots of shots of the Sparrow 2.

http://corbin.com/motors/

Chip

No, the Sparrow has always been a three wheeled motorcycle.
Think of it as a motorcycle where you sit inside a large crash helmet.

Warren

There are lots of great designs out there. Here is one of my favorites.

http://www.evalbum.com/2653

There is nothing revolutionary about 3000-4000 pound, totally conventional, electric cars.

Ross Carroll

It’s bloody ugly that’s for sure. It looks like a three wheeled Dutch clog. Toyota have a great looking idea with their iRoad and how it tilts into corners. Get some decent range on it and a good speed ant they’re on a winner – And it looks like something an adult would be pleased to be seen in. This thing looks like it would have a huge market for Shriners.

Rick Danger

Toyota isn’t going to get good speed and good range on the iRoad, and no amount of wishing is going to change that.
If you click on the link Chip provided above, you can see a rendering of the direction Jerry is planning to go. It ain’t gonna look nothin’ like a Sparrow… more like an arrow 🙂
I’ve got my fingers crossed on this one. Jerry promised a reveal of the new EMV17 this coming November.

Rossco65

Hey Rick,
Thanks for the heads up, I missed Chips link. Yes, the EMV 17 looks a much better option.

As for the iRoad. Well, I know they’ve made a few but I don’t think it’s quite there yet. Maybe a couple of redrafts of the idea and improvement in speed and battery life in years to come with graphene supercapacitor batteries and such like. Maybe even newer style batteries that can recharge in 15 seconds and last a week on a charge such as those being developed in Singapore at the Nanyang Technological University. (fingers crossed)
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730312-100-the-battery-revolution-that-will-let-us-all-be-power-brokers/

Perhaps they should employ or have a competition among Manga and Anime designers? But I think Toyota are on the right track as far as these little personal EV’s are concerned.

I have to say I really like the concept of Raht Racer as well. It needs some work design wise but it’s the beginning of a great idea.