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CityLab
Transportation

In-Between a Bike and a Car

The makers of the ELF believe their enclosed, three-wheeled, low-carbon vehicle is the perfect transportation compromise.
Rob Cotter with an ELF
Rob Cotter with an ELF Organic Transit

Rob Cotter sits in his small office on a side street in Durham, North Carolina, in a baseball cap and sweatshirt, as the sounds of incessant drilling and people yelling "horn check"—followed closely by a tinny beep—press on around him.

Bright green and orange ovoid frames stand on the floors and hang from ceilings all around the workshop, where tiny pedal-driven, solar-powered vehicles called ELFs are being built late into the evening. Cotter seems remarkably down-to-earth for someone who's planning to take over the world.