It looks like half a golf cart, can go 18 miles an hour, is street and sidewalk legal yet ADA compliant, and can range 30 miles on a single charge. The future of transportation is here, Howard Sapper is convinced, and it’s rolling in on three wheels.
The eTrike electric tricycle, for sale or rent at Sapper’s downtown Sonoma storefront, is an innovation. It was conceived by eTrike CEO Nick Smith and shared with Sapper, music promoter and fellow entrepreneur, on a cocktail napkin. Sapper loved the concept, and “put down a few of the plates I was spinning” to become a partner in the new company.
“I’m excited about this start-up,” he says, convinced that electric, eco-friendly transportation is the future. “There’s nothing comparable out there. It’s a real societal statement.”
The Sonoma showroom is the El Paseo courtyard, off the Plaza at 414 First St. East. Eight of the two-seaters are available for rent (two hours for $75, four hours for $95), and Sapper and operations chief Maria Nguyen, are taking orders for purchase (under $3,000 each).
Golf carts can go for twice that, and lack the maneuverability of the eTrike, which measures about 30” wide. With two wheels in back and one up front, the vehicle is very stable.
“It’s all so new, people are curious,” Sapper says. Rentals are a fun way to cruise the wine country, a unique and selfie-perfect adventure. But owning one is like having “a great second family car.” He just took an order for a 94-year-old, who felt the bike was a perfect fit for her small-town routine of shopping, library visits, and other short trips.
There’s even a trunk, sort of – the back seat lifts to reveal storage space. “This is where the cases of wine go.”
The eTrikeCo store is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.to 6 p.m., and Mondays by appointment. Etrikeco.com.
– Val Robichaud