Imagine for a second that you were the billionaire head of an automotive parts and manufacturing company. What passion project would you spend your billions on? Perhaps you’d go racing, or exclusively commute using a different French Sans Permis vehicle for each day of the week, but Magna International founder Frank Stronach decided to develop a very cheap, very slow electric microcar called the SARIT. Welcome to Canada’s latest contribution to the world of motoring.
Unsurprisingly, SARIT is an acronym, one that stands for Safe, Affordable, Reliable, Innovative Transportation. Let’s start with the Safe part of that equation, as three-wheeled vehicles with one wheel at the front have an unfortunate reputation for tipping over. While little seems to have been done to counter the inherent imbalance of a design like this, the SARIT takes safety holistically with an extruded aluminum frame and a very low minimum speed limiter for pedestrian safety. Set the three-stage speed controller to low and this little thing will creep up to 2.5 mph (four km/h), roughly the average walking speed. I presume that being hit by a SARIT at that speed would be a bit like walking blindly into a porta potty – not exactly a fluffy cushion of marshmallow crème, but minor enough to shrug off and keep moving.
Right, so what about the Affordable part of the name? Well, local news organization York Region Media Group reports that the SARIT is expected to retail for between $6,000 and $7,000 Canadian dollars, or between roughly $4,425 and $5,130 American dollars. That’s well-aged used car money for a brand new EV, so there’s definitely a degree of affordability here. Mind you, I’m not so sure if affordability means value. A cheap and terrible early Nissan Leaf won’t be brand new and won’t have the same compact form factor as the SARIT, but it’ll do stuff like go on medium-speed roads and fit more than two people inside.
Two people? In this little thing? Apparently so, as SARIT claims it offers “1 and 2-passenger (motorcycle-style) seating.” Given that four of these are said to fit within a standard parking space, make sure whoever you’re bringing along for the ride isn’t very big and is on extremely friendly terms. At roughly 90 inches long and 42 inches wide, this thing will make a Smart Fortwo look like a city bus.
Mind you, SARIT seems to be making steps in the right direction regarding the Reliable part of its name. This little thing packs an LFP battery for longevity mated to a somewhat peculiar drive axle. The electric motor is mounted directly to a live axle, which means unsprung weight should be rather high. Granted, range is very reasonable at 62 miles (100 km), but top speed is limited to a rather low 20 mph (32 km/h). Fine for urban gridlock, but I can picture several arterial roads in Toronto where you’d just about get run over for going that slowly. Bayview just north of Sunnybrook, for example.
[Ed note: This is like Jason’s Changli, except with more range. As a commuter in quiet neighborhoods, this could work nicely. -DT].
So, how about the Innovative part of the name? Well, as a greater concept, I’m not sure how innovative the SARIT is. From the Brütsch Mopetta to the Carver One, the narrow three-wheeler thing has been done before. Plus, other microcars have displayed more flair. For example, the Reyonnah 175, a very small car that could narrow its front track to fit inside garden gates. Sure, the extruded tubular aluminum frame of the SARIT is unique, but it doesn’t seem groundbreaking in the microcar space.
Finally, we get to the Transportation in SARIT. Yes, this is most certainly transportation, and a fair step up from a space hopper or pogo stick. It’s enclosed from the elements, there’s space for a light shop at the local grocer, and it even has a delightfully quirky set of tail lights with chevron-shaped indicators. You steer with a set of handlebars, the doors are fully removable for fresh air motoring, and this little thing has a lockable trunk for you to put things in. I could totally see myself using one of these things to run around downtown on a humid June day, trying to channel the spirit of the music video for Len’s Steal My Sunshine while picking up a pizza.
Perhaps most interesting is the positioning of the SARIT as an internal combustion doomsday vehicle. Stronach remarked to York Region Media Group: “When I look three years down the road, gasoline prices will triple. When I look 10 years down the road, gasoline will be rationed.” According to oil industry publication RigZone, Fitch Solutions seems to have a very different perspective, forecasting gasoline futures falling to $2.14 per gallon in 2025. Bloomberg clocks in a bit higher at $2.66 per gallon in 2025, which is still down from 2022 averages. While it’s possible that gas taxes will increase in the coming years, gasoline prices tripling in three years seems a bit of a long shot.
Regardless, I reckon it’ll be fun seeing this little thing out and about. The SARIT is expected to go on sale in 2023, rolling out of a brand new factory near Aurora, Ontario, roughly half an hour north of Toronto. While I’m not exactly expecting this pint-sized low-speed electric vehicle to be a success, the world’s a brighter place with one more tiny car in it. Plus, it comes with its own song. No, I’m not joking.
Terribly sorry for subjecting you to that. Still, the other promo vid features Birdemic-tier acting and still includes questionable music, so I’ll spare you that second-hand embarrassment.
All photos courtesy of SARIT
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