CLEVER & Carver's Tilt Cars

Nine European partners (including BMW) representing the industrial and research sectors have done something clever. Working with the University of Bath, the collaboration has given birth to a new kind of vehicle for crowded, polluted, urban driving environments. At one-meter wide, incorporating the maneuverability of a toyota or a motorcycle – including the ability to tilt – and featuring the high safety rating of a Smart car, the three-wheeled prototype they developed is indeed “CLEVER,” i.e., “Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport.” The vehicle runs on compressed natural gas putting out about a third of the carbon dioxide emissions of the good old family sedan. The project cost £1.5 million and could easily change the face of city driving forever.

Three wheelers with cabs that tilt
on corners, such as the CLEVER
(pictured), and the Carver One,
should be on the road by 2009.

For the past three years the designers and engineers have worked on CLEVER, which has seats for a driver and passenger (one behind the other) in a fully enclosed cabin with a strengthened frame and full roll cage for crash protection. Top speed is 60 mph with acceleration from zero to 40 in seven seconds. In width, CLEVER comes in three feet slimmer than a mid-size sedan and 20 inches less than a micro car, making it one of the most potentially parking-efficient vehicles the driving public has ever seen.

The metal skeleton of the CLEVER tilts, with the twin rear wheels remaining upright. The hydraulic active tilt system knows what degree of lean is needed around curves and keeps the vehicle balanced and stable at all times. The driver just steers normally and the car does the rest. Power is derived from a modified BMW C1 scooter engine by Rotax upped to 218 cc. The selection of compressed natural gas as the fuel frees CLEVER from congestion charges in cities like London while returning about 108 miles per gallon fuel efficiency. The natural gas is stored in two, six-liter, carbon fiber, removable tanks that combined give the car a range of 125 miles.

Direct competition for the CLEVER, which may become commercially available later this year, is represented by the gasoline-powered Carver One, already on sale in the UK and powered by a 600 cc, turbocharged, four cylinder. Also featuring an enclosed cabin, the Carver One banks around curves in the same fashion, does zero to 60 in 8.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 115 mph. It’s just a shade larger than the CLEVER with a width of 1.3 meters. The price tag at your new car dealer for the Carver reads £27,654.

Both the CLEVER and the Carver represent a significant change in thinking for what constitutes urban transport. And both are indicative of the increasing momentum behind the move toward personal transportation as represented by a “city” car; smaller, more efficient vehicles with a limited driving range designed specifically for crowded urban conditions. For example, some 30,000 Americans immediately stepped forward and put down their deposit on the country’s first Smart cars to be delivered early in 2008. Can a vehicle like CLEVER, with its condensed natural gas fuel system and small profile be far behind? While some legal authorities may be confused (is it a car or is it a motorcycle?) drivers aren’t confused in the least. Fuel costs too much. Parking is a nightmare. The environment is endangered. The time is ripe for something different and if nothing else, CLEVER is different.

7 Responses to “CLEVER & Carver's Tilt Cars”
  1. Chris says:

    This is very old news… The Clever is not going anywhere as far as I know. They got lots of press but the chance of it ever going into production is negligible.
    The Carver is available to buy now in Europe, but the price has limited any chance of broad appeal. Try one if you can; it is an amazing vehicle to drive.

  2. Robert says:

    What good is a green world when you can’t afford it! With the exception of the Smart Car, none of these vehicles have the right combination of practicality, safety, and an economical price. So what if it looks cool? So what if it uses very little fuel? The reality is that between the cost of crude oil per barrel and the cost of these cars, perhaps we need to just go back to an agrarian lifestyle of growing food on our own land and selling homemade folk art crap to pay for everything else.

    I put $99.00 down on a Smart Car because the combination of 40 miles to the gallon and the low base sticker cost is right for my wallet. And before any of you out there start to say that the fuel economy is too low for a car so small, just remember two things. The cost is much lower than the Prius and you can usually beat the average MPG by acquiring better driving habits.

    That said, however, would the Smart Car be my first choice if there were other cars out there that promised real fuel economy at a truly low price? Maybe not. I do like this little car, but I have always wanted an electric car or some other type of vehicle that would not use gasoline. But there is always that problem of paying through the nose for a car like this. The upfront cost of most of these cars is so high that it forces the average person to look at the same old crap that the Big Three auto makers in Detroit continue to foist onto the world. Michigan was once the automotive capital of the world and now it is becoming a ghost town caused by the lack of vision of GM, FORD, and Chrysler.

    Despite the fact that they have great design teams who come out with prototypes that make people go crazy from excitement, they NEVER, NEVER, NEVER deliver any of these fantastic cars. Insanity! I come from a General Motors family. Almost every member of my family worked for General Motors. The vehicle I am driving now is a gas guzzling 2006 Saturn VUE. As soon as my Smart Car becomes available, I will get rid of the VUE thus ending my loyalty to a brand that put bread on my table only because GM sold me a car that makes it almost impossible to keep bread on my table and money in my wallet and has never offered an alternative vehicle for sale that makes the lives of lower income people a little easer.

    All of these pie in the sky cars like the Clever, the Aptera, the Chevy Volt, and countless other cars that promise the moon but cost far more than what the average person can make are useless at the price they are being offered. I find it ironic that in a world where we can now manufacture something like an iPhone that is a technological masterpiece at such a low cost comparatively speaking to phones of the past that cost much more that the automakers continually insist that the production cost of a vehicle can never be brought down without sacrificing quality. BULL. The automotive industry has had well over 100 years or R&D and yet still cannot break the 29MPG barrier for a “family” car? Cannot or will not?

    Airplanes have been around for less time and have advanced far more than the automobile. In just 66 years after the moment the Wright Brothers made their first flight, we landed on the moon with the Apollo 11. Think about it people. We went from an aircraft that was not much more than a gas engine powered kite to a 6 million pound rocket that WENT TO THE MOON in just 66 years! And yet somehow we can’t make a car that costs $8,000 and gets 100 miles to the gallon? Don’t blame the public for this by saying that what was built is what was wanted by the public. Nobody I knew wanted any of the cars that were built back in the 1980′s, but that was all that was available back then.

    None of the auto companies have ever been truly innovative. They keep falling back on old ideas and are killing the world with global warming and hyper inflation in fuel prices. And who pays the price for their mistakes? Us.

  3. PHEVadvocate says:

    How about a Electric Vehicle or Plug-in Hybrid based on the Carver One? (offical site) (unoffical site)

    They are making lots of progress and they are talking $18K to $20K USD.

    A common man’s Tesla Roadster, that is just as much fun!

  4. Tugboatwilly says:

    I am surprised the JAPAN companies have not jumped on this like Subaru did the Audi 4X4 system. I imagine they or Koreans can do what Detroit can never consider, paying royalties to build something that works they did not invent. They would sell a million units a year in this country at $12000 a copy using the 100 mpg tech Venture Vehicles is planning.
    Funny thing no people running for office in this country can see how this type of vehicle could bring manufacturing back o the USA.

  5. JD says:

    The Clever has a fundamental problem with its titing merchanism.
    Philip James in Australia has developed an elegant, technically coherent tilting system. Why doent the EU, BMW, Bath University just bite the bullit and use his system.

  6. I actually started design on a leaning vehicle, until I went through the equations! What I found, and you will too if you go through the equations, is that it is better and cheaper to simply lower the center of gravity.

    I am working on an electric vehicle with the first goal being “affordable”. I’d be interested in feedback, so here is some self-promotion (web host – OK?). Check out

  7. Smart... YAWN says:

    Its funny to me, i drive a modified 07 civic SI that was 19,950 out the door new, and i get (best was 44mpg highway) the (worst was 35mpg highway) but i average in NYC traffic 30mpg… so wait whats so great about the smart car? doesnt seem so smart to me, if anything the 1st generation Scion XB was much better then the smart car, got 35mpg on the highway, was cheap, could get 4 people in it with room to spare… Plus would run on regular… Smart??? I think not…


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