T3 Motion Inc. is marketing a three-wheel, all-electric vehicle as an option in the field of professional personal mobility.
The company characterizes the T3 vehicle as ``simple and intuitive to drive'' and says it can travel about 25 miles on a charge.
``The frame, body and components are brought in from a number of suppliers,'' President Neil Brooker said in a recent phone interview. ``Current suppliers are located mainly in the U.S. and Asia, with the higher volumes being from U.S.-based suppliers.''
The T3 uses polycarbonate for all of its high-intensity, light-emitting-diode illumination lenses; an ABS-PC blend for the headset, grab handles and front and rear light cans; and urethane for the front and rear fenders, belly pan and glove box.
``The use of plastics has enabled T3 Motion to develop a design that is in concert with the image of the professional,'' he said.
``The body outer and inner panels are currently fiberglass, but as volumes are increasing, T3 Motion is moving toward other material options'' including possibly plastics with higher impact strength, Brooker said.
``In some cases, we have even considered replacing metal structures with either carbon fiber and nylon or carbon fiber and polyurethane blends.''
T3 Motion assembles two T3 models and manufactures the power modules and chargers at its 50,000-square-foot site in Costa Mesa, Calif. Color options, lighting packages and speed differentiate the models for professional law enforcement agencies and private security firms.
An operator of a T3 stands on a 9-inch-high ``command-presence'' platform, can execute zero-degree-radius turns and can travel up to 25 miles per hour with a special-order chain-drive system. The standard belt drive is designed to travel 8-20 mph.
Two other product developers sell battery-powered vehicles to civilians as well as professionals. Segway Inc. of Bedford, N.H., makes a two-wheel, self-balancing personal transporter that was introduced in late 2001, and American Chariot Co. Inc. of San Leandro, Calif., markets a three-wheel personal transportation vehicle that went into distribution in 2004.
Work on T3 Motion's power module started in 2000, focused on uses in clean-technology automobiles and included research on a brushless electric motor. ``However, it was discovered that the technology was too early for adoption, so in 2003 the company decided to research personal traction vehicles with a market focus on the professional end user,'' Brooker said.
A team of managers, environmental experts, engineers and designers identified the law enforcement/security need for a product that would handle situations that fall between what traditionally is performed by the foot beat or bike patrol, and what is possible on a motorcycle or in a car.
Fully charging the vehicle can take three to four hours, so T3 Motion offers extra power modules that can be changed quickly, addressing concerns about the vehicle's range and speed.
T3 sought input from public safety and security markets and reviewed the design numerous times before the vehicle was introduced in October 2006 at a Boston conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
``The T3 was viewed as a new and disruptive technology,'' Brooker said. As a result, ``T3 Motion offered various potential clients the opportunity to test a number of units, to understand the advantages that the T3 brings to community policing, patrol, campuses, shopping malls and many other applications.''
The University of Southern California conducted early field trials, and the Los Angeles police department used the T3 in trials in various locations and applications throughout 2007.
``Once an agency had completed a trial, it was not obligated to purchase a T3,'' but most recognized the benefits and bought the units, according to Brooker.