Stronach demonstrates his new micro-mobility vehicle

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It’s been two years since Frank Stronach started work on his micro-mobility electric vehicle and while it will still take more time before the SARIT (‘Safe Affordable Reliable Innovative Transport’) is out of the prototype phase, that did not stop the Canadian billionaire from showing off two early models at Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

The SARIT looks like a hybrid between a smart car, a motorcycle and a tricycle, with three wheels and handlebars instead of a steering wheel and pedals. The doors, like many Jeeps’, are detachable, allowing for personal customization of the vehicle.

A micro-mobility vehicle is defined as a mode of transport that is no larger than three-and-a-half feet wide, seven-and-a-half feet long, and five-and-a-half feet tall. The SARIT was designed to maximize that space, following those dimensions exactly.

“You can fit four of them perfectly in a single parking space”, says Stronach, founder of Stronach International and the Ontario-based auto part manufacturer Magna International.

A zero-carbon-emission micro-mobility vehicle is exactly what Canadians need, he says.

While traditional vehicles are the transport of choice right now, Stronach predicts a substantial change on the horizon. “In three years, fuel prices will triple. In eight years, fuel will be rationed and used only for essential purposes. Micro-mobility is the future of transportation.”

The SARIT is meant to be an affordable vehicle, costing $6,000. More importantly, “you can drive to work and back for less than a dollar”, says Stronach.

The SARIT has a top speed of 32 kilometres per hour, limiting its usage to inner-city commutes.

“It’s perfect for going to work in the morning and heading back home at night”, Stronach says. “It can go (as far as) 100 kilometres in a single charge, so you can just plug it in when you get home.”

And smaller vehicles, Stronach argues, would mean far less traffic. “I was driving to a meeting in downtown Toronto a few years ago, and back in the day it used to take 30 minutes from the outskirts to get to the city centre. Now, with traffic, it’s an hour or more.”

The project has been underway for two years and Stronach says it will be some time before the SARIT is out of the prototype phase.

Instead of the traditional gas pedal, the vehicle has three toggled speeds: low, medium, and high, and a throttle on the right handlebar.

“The low-speed setting is at four kilometres per hour, to match pedestrians, in case you want to drive on the sidewalk”, says Daniel Lajeunesse, vice president with Stronach International. The company’s hope is that the SARIT will be classified alongside e-scooters and bicycles as a micro-mobility vehicle that is not restricted to the road.

He also mentions that without pedals, the vehicle is more accessible to those without use of their legs.

Despite having only three wheels, Lajeunesse insists on the SARIT’s stability. To prove it, he throws a hip-check into the frame to show how little it moves.

“We’re not just protecting the driver. We’re protecting the community: pedestrians and cyclists getting hit in downtown Toronto and Ottawa continues to be an issue. But if (the SARIT) is protecting the lane, it’s protecting everybody.”

Stronach is also working on a pickup truck model — still within the bounds of the micro-mobility sphere — that would have a three-by-four foot cab to transport goods.

“These would be great for last-mile delivery and shipments for local businesses,” Lajeunesse says. “If you’re only using this much space, you’re doing a lot less damage with your carbon footprint,”

Lajeunesse also talked about a “eureka” moment while preparations were underway for Wednesday’s demonstration at Parliament. “We took a white door and put it on a red car and realized if we put the maple leaf on it, it looks just like the Canada flag.”

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