Is the Corbin Sparrow about to be resurrected?
In the mid 1990's Mike Corbin, famous for his custom motorcycle seats, introduced a car that was actually a motorcycle, that looked like it had escaped from toontown, and had a pure electric drive train. The Corbin Sparrow was a three wheeled enclosed vehicle, somewhat like a car, but was legally a motorcycle because it had three wheels. The Sparrow engendered either ridicule or gushing praise depending on ones style preferences. At one time the company had a long waiting list of unfilled orders, but folded in 2004 amid financial troubles at the company. Today Mike Corbin see's this is the best time for what Corbin says was his "best idea" to take flight.
One might scratch their head over why a man who's famous for manufacturing custom seats for Harley-Davidson motorcycles would want to build an electric vehicle. However those who know their history, know that Mike Corbin built and raced with electric motorcycles in the 1970's. Clearly this is a man whose interest in electric vehicles goes back a ways.
The original Corbin Sparrow design was a three wheeled vehicle in the reverse-trike configuration (two wheels in front, one in the rear). The 156 volt DC drive train had an electric motor mounted under the passenger cabin, with a belt driving the rear wheel. The jelly-bean-like body was made of fiberglass, and could be built in all sorts of colors. It being the 1990's, advanced batteries weren't available, so it used a lead-acid battery pack consisting of 13 Optima Yellow-Top batteries. It had a 25 mile or so range, and could travel at up to 75 miles/hr. The passenger cabin held one person, and there was a small storage compartment in the rear. Nearly 300 of the original Sparrow's were sold, and most of them are still on the road today.
Today a company in Ohio, Myers Motors, is selling these vehicles under the name "NmG" (No More Gas), and has designed a two passenger version called the DUO (Doesn't Use Oil). Myers has claimed several times the DUO would go into production "soon" without ever actually doing so.
Enough of the history, what about the resurrection of the Sparrow? The new vehicle is to be called the Sparrow 2, and is described as a "Personal Transport Module". The specifications are incomplete as the vehicle is still in development, but it's clearly more than just a rehash of the original Sparrow.
What we see on the Sparrow Motors website is a modern drive train and battery pack design. The new drive train is still belt driven, uses an AC motor, and is attached at the rear of the vehicle as in the original Sparrow. Rather than lead-acid batteries the Sparrow 2 will use a lithium battery pack, of course. The website shows pictures of the new drive train mounted on an original Sparrow, which they'll use for testing and validation. Once the new Sparrow 2 prototype body is ready, they will transplant the new drive train for testing the full vehicle. The company is getting assistance from Manzanita Micro, an electric vehicle components supplier from Washington State. Once they've validated the full vehicle is worthy of production, they'll do so.