Polaris Tries to Make Slingshot Legal in All States, Tests Autocycle Category

Polaris Slingshot 1 photo
Photo: Polaris
Polaris’ latest creation, the Slingshot has had troubles being accepted by the DMV in certain states. We reported in November that Texas would not have it homologated as a motorcycle. The Lone Star state was not the only one with this problem, as the Polaris Slingshot lacked homologation in Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, and Maryland also refusing to certify the trike as street-legal. Basically, the Slingshot defies the existing vehicle classifications in these states, and Polaris is trying to mend things.
However, since the problems the Slingshot has to deal with were different from place to place, multiple solutions were needed. The easiest way, at least in theory, was to find a way to change the legislation so that the Slingshot became compliant with one of the existing categories. All in all, it appears like changing the law in such a way to make it more permissive for the Slingshot was indeed the shortest road. Not unlike some of our readers predicted it would be…

The Polaris Slingshot becomes a Autocycle

Apparently the most difficult step was taking care of things in Connecticut and this was the trigger for efforts pursuing the creation of another vehicle category. That’s how ”autocycles” entered the spotlight and became the salvation for the Slingshot. According to the SB 936, “’Autocycle’ means a motor vehicle that meets the requirements of a motorcycle under 49 CFR Part 571, and (A) does not have more than three wheels in contact with the ground, (B) is designed to be controlled with a steering wheel and foot pedals for acceleration, braking or shifting, (C) has a seat or seats that are fully or partially enclosed and in which the occupants sit with their legs forward, and (D) is equipped with safety belts, in accordance with section 14-100a, for all occupants.

In addition, the House Bill 6822 exempts the autocycle drivers from the state’s helmet law. The final decision is expected by June 3, when the legislative session ends, and we might get to see Slingshots legal by summer in Connecticut.

Hawaii goes autocycle

Hawaii had no trouble in having the HB 784 revising the existing rules and adding autocycles to the menu, defined as “a three-wheeled motor vehicle powered by a gasoline engine on which the driver and all passengers ride in a completely enclosed, tandem seating area, that is equipped with a roll cage, safety belts for all occupants, airbag protection, and antilock brakes and that is designed to be controlled with a steering wheel and pedals."

At the same time, motorcycle endorsement is not needed for Polaris Slingshot drivers. The end of the current legislative season in Hawaii is on May 7, but the state law allows unresolved bills to be carried through the next session.

Indiana was really fast

Things moved quite quickly in Indiana, as the autocycles, defined as “a three-wheeled motor vehicle in which the operator and passenger ride in a completely or partially enclosed seating area that is equipped with: (1) a rollcage or roll hoops; (2) safety belts for each occupant; and (3) antilock brakes; and is designed to be controlled with a steering wheel and pedals,” became legal on March 12.

Helmets and goggles are not mandatory, but a motorcycle license is needed to drive the Slingshot in Indiana, even though Polaris and Elio tried to obtain an exempt. At the same time the Slingshot and autocycles are not included in the “dead red” law allowing motorcycles to run a red traffic light after waiting two minutes without a signal change.

Maryland deals with exhausts and windshields, while Texas has a saddle problem

Polaris’s troubles still linger in Maryland, as the vehicle legislation still has the windshield and the exhaust location on the iffy things list. The fact that the exhaust line is so close to the occupants and the Slingshot has drain holes in the bottom seems to be one of the problems, while “regulations require the tailpipe to extend beyond the rearmost seating position.” The glazing standards are the other problem which must be solved.

No bill is reported to have been introduced at the time of writing, and with the session ending on April 17 and the impossibility to carry unresolved bills through the next session, it looks like Maryland “Slingshoters” are still on hold.

Finally, Texas solved the “saddle issue” with the companion bills HB 439 and SB 449, which add “a motor vehicle, other than a tractor, that is: (A) equipped with a rider’s saddle or a seat for the use of: (i) a rider; and (ii) a passenger, if the motor vehicle is designed or used primarily to transport a passenger; and (B designed to have when propelled not more than three wheels on the ground,” to the description of a motorcycle. The public hearing was on March 18. June 1 sees the end of the legislative session in Texas.

It’s been a tough ride for Polaris for now, and there is still some fighting ahead. Still no word on a Slingshot in Europe…
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