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This Tandem-Seat Electric Three-Wheeler For Sale Is Surprisingly Cool

Only 80 prototypes of this Swiss micro-EV were ever made

byNico DeMattia|
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There's never been a shortage of small, quirky electric vehicle startups over the years. Some have been mildly successful, like the G-Wiz in the UK, and some failed before they even started, like Elio Motors. However, this Cree SAM for sale is not only one of the quirkiest, it's one of the rarest, and it can be yours for less than the cost of a fully loaded MacBook Pro.

Never heard of the Cre SAM ? Not to worry, few people have. Built by the long-defunct Swiss company Cree in 2001, the SAM was designed to be an emission-free city car that could fit two people. Cree only built 80 prototypes but went bankrupt shortly after.

The SAM is a neat little car, though. The three-wheel, tandem-seat design isn't groundbreaking but it's quirky and fun, as it gives the car an incredibly narrow footprint while still seating two people. It uses an extruded aluminum chassis and an air-filled, double-walled thermoplastic body made from recycled polymer, according to documents provided by the seller. And despite being 23 years old, it still looks modern, with its futuristic design and double-hinged gullwing doors. When open, the SAM's two doors remind me of the Tesla Model X's falcon doors, except the SAM's are manual and won't fail as often. The top part half of the door is glass but the bottom half, which is separated by a hinge, matches the body.

Inside, its two seats are really cool, with perforated metal frames and just enough cushion to make them livable. Although, I'm not sure what happened to the back seat. It looks like the cushions' adhesive melted and they fell off. The steering wheel and gauges show the SAM's age, as they look plucked from a '90s Ford, and the pedal box might be the smallest I've ever seen. Otherwise, it seems like fun.

How did this one—prototype number 52, according to the seller—make its way to the 'States? That's unclear but it's illegal to drive in the U.S. until 2026 anyway, under current import laws, so it doesn't come with a title, only a bill of sale. Though, it still has its Swiss license plate, which is fun.

According to the seller's documents, the Cree SAM packed a 7 kWh battery pack, consisting of 36 lithium-polymer cells. Its single electric motor is capable of getting the little trike up to 53 mph and it has a maximum range of 45 miles. In 2001, it originally cost 12,800 euros ($13,614 in today's dollars).

This tandem electric trike will be a project for the next owner, as it hasn't run in years, its battery will need work, it has some interior damage, and it's missing a wheel arch reflector. On the flip side, it's only $3,500, so it could be an incredibly fun and unique project that will turn heads wherever it goes once fixed at a decently low cost. However, owners will have to be creative with repairs, as it's not like you can pop down to Pep Boys to grab parts for it.

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