The 2020 Vanderhall Edison 2 commands attention

The streets of Beverly Hills are lined with shops with tall glass windows, glitzy hotels with gold trim, squeaky-clean Mercedes-AMG G-Wagens, and a Rolls-Royce or two. It takes something special to stand out from the crowd.

Apparently, all it takes is $34,950.

That’s exactly what the all-electric Vanderhall Edison 2 will cost when it arrives at dealers in the middle of the year. I drove a Vanderhall Edison 2 in the home of excess and it turned more heads than any car I’ve ever driven. It doesn’t even have four wheels.

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

What is it?

The Edison 2 is an all-electric three-wheeler based off Vanderhall’s gas-powered three-wheelers. Power to a pair of electric motors comes from an air-cooled, front-mounted 28-kwh battery pack. Together, those 52-kw electric motors put out 140 horsepower and 232 pound-feet of torque. Each front wheel is connected to an electric motor via a belt that runs to an individual planetary gearset. Power is sent to the electric motors via direct drive; there is no transmission.

The Edison 2 hasn’t been rated by the EPA, but Vanderhall spokesman Daniel Boyer told Motor Authority it’s good for about 200 miles of real-world driving, even if that’s up and down canyon roads.

With its 6-kw onboard charger, a full charge takes about four hours on a Level 2 charge point or 11-18 hours on a Level 1 outlet.

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

Old school

The Edison 2’s powertrain is modern, but its design is so simple it’s old school. The bodywork is smooth and the paint looks like glass. LED headlights are hidden behind the eggcrate grille, while the LED taillights are tucked under the rear bodywork. The nearly frameless curved windshield looks like something from a concept car, while tiny, round side mirrors dangle from delicate mounts.

The interior also embraces simple, minimalist design. The dashboard is clean and easy-to-read with a few gauges that provide vital information such as speed, power draw, battery state, and battery temperature. Two silver toggle switches, one for hazards and the other for an audio system that only works through Bluetooth, sit below a black plastic volume/track rocker, and a small glovebox is the only real storage spot. There isn’t a fancy wooden-steering wheel or even doors. It’s bare bones.

Vanderhall Edison² electric three wheeler

Vanderhall Edison² electric three wheeler

It’s different

“Don’t touch the windshield.” That’s the first instruction Vanderhall spokesman Daniel Boyer gave me. It’s the most logical place to grab while climbing into the doorless Edison 2, but Boyer said it could break the windshield.

To get into the Edison 2, I had to put a hand on the roll bar behind the seat for stability then climb aboard one leg at a time. Once inside, it was cozy to the point of claustrophobic. Two supportive seats slide fore and aft, but the backs are fixed in place.

When I turn the Edison on via the pushbutton start it was like nothing happened. The gauges came to life as the needles found their places, but that’s it. It makes no futuristic sounds and has no touchscreens to wake up.

As I pulled into the street, it quickly became obvious that this trike’s electric power steering system is weighted surprisingly heavy considering the vehicle is so light. Once underway, the direct steering communicates what the front pushrod suspension is experiencing with telepathic precision. Every crack on the road is transmitted to the driver, for better and worse.

Heading toward the hills and away from Wilshire Boulevard, I realized the Edison 2 isn’t like other electric vehicle I’ve driven. There’s a distinct whine from the drive system as power increases, and the torque doesn’t hit all at once like a brick wall. Due to the belt-driven planetary gearsets, the power comes on like a wave similar to a turbocharged car of 20 years ago, though there is no pause in power delivery for gear changes.

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

Vanderhall gave the Edison 2 a fixed amount of regen that’s similar to the minimal drag of a gas-powered engine, so it doesn’t allow for one-pedal driving. The brakes have a strong initial bite and are easy to modulate in traffic, though it took a few moments to get used to the regenerative braking to gauge how much I needed to use the brake pedal itself.

As a three-wheeler, the Edison 2 doesn’t like to be pushed to the limits or even appreciate ham-fisted driving. The faster it’s pushed the less confidence it instills. It quickly becomes a game of “How Stable Do You Want To Feel?” Spoiler: I did’t want to feel unstable.

The electric three-wheeler is happiest at slower or cruising speeds of less than 50 mph around corners. This isn’t a canyon carver, it’s a Malibu cruiser.

With almost no bodywork surrounding the cabin, the Edison 2 provided an open-air experience with near perfect visibility for someone with my 5’10” height. Anyone taller could have an issue with the windshield height.

Along the drive, an F-150 driver whipped his cell phone to record video, kids in the back seat of an SUVs gave the thumbs up, and random luxury-car drivers rolled down their windows and screamed, “What is that thing?”

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

2020 Vanderhall Edison three wheeler

Today and tomorrow

Despite its name, the Edison 2 is actually the first model in the Edison range, and a more-expensive and more-luxurious, Edison 4 is set to arrive later in 2020 or in 2021. It will be based on the Vanderhall Carmel model and feature doors, cruise control, a wooden steering wheel, and other amenities. Boyer said an Edison 1 and Edison 3 could be in the works down the road.

Electric three-wheelers, including Vanderhall’s Edison lineup, don’t currently qualify for federal tax incentives. The reason, according to Boyer, is “politics,” noting it’s a red-state vs blue-state issue.

The Edison 2 I drove was the second production model and was built just two days before I drove it. Boyer said production has begun and the goal is for deliveries to begin before June, though availability will depend on how quickly dealers can be prepped for service and support.

At $34,950, the Edison is a pricey toy with little practicality, but it’s pretty cheap considering it can grab more attention in Beverly Hills than a $400,000 Rolls-Royce.

Note–Vanderhall confirmed during our drive that the vehicle did not have electric power steering, but later corrected that information. The vehicle does have an electric power steering system.

Deja un comentario