Chimp PTV: Someone's Looking for Trouble

With a top speed under 12 mph, you won't need Usain Bolt-like speed to outrun a cop on one of these Chimps, unless you're laughing too hard to run.

chimp personal electric vehicle

photo from Doran EV's

by Ross Bonander

Specs:

  • Type: Personal transportation vehicle
  • Class: Industrial
  • Manufacturer: Doran Electric Vehicles
  • Propulsion system: 24 volt, 1.3 hp motor
  • Top Speed: 11.5 mph (km/h)
  • Vehicle range: 30 miles, provided you drive on a flat, paved surface
  • Fuel(s): Electricity
  • Battery system: Two 12 volt deep-cycle lead-acid batteries
  • Vehicle weight: 192 lbs (the batteries each weigh 60 lbs)
  • Tailpipe emissions: No
  • Price: $3,195
  • Availability: Plenty

The manufacturer says

"If you get in trouble on this vehicle, you were lookin' for it."

The FutureCars.com writer responds

"If you go looking for this vehicle, you're askin' for trouble."

Overview

In "The Butter Shave", George Costanza takes part in one of TV's all-time greatest chase scenes:

"Whatcha got there, the four volt? I did you a favor." Fun stuff.

As the clip illustrates, motorized carts, scooters and buggies aide in personal mobility for those who need it. Ambulatory people like George can and should walk like the rest of us.

Enter the likes of Doran Motor Company, formerly known as Gorilla Vehicles (I'm not lying). They are one of a handful of companies that produce fleet-ready, one-person rides like the Chimp but reserve fancy titles for them, such as "personal transportation vehicle" (just like Carl the Janitor had once been a student of the custodial arts).

I have a nothing but contempt for such vehicles; I find them to be ridiculous on every level and useful on none.

What we like

Ummm... Realistically, I don't like anything about the Chimp. But for the sake of argument, I'll offer up a quick list, using terms from their website:

  • The Chimp doesn't permit the popping of "wheelies"
  • The Chimp is NOT a "wimp-mobile"
  • The Chimp has an "Optional lighting package" which includes the near-impossible-to-imagine-ever-using set of turn signals.

What we don’t

The price. Why does a vehicle that looks like it came out of an oversized Toys-R-Us box cost $3,195? The overall cost of batteries is what keeps electric vehicles expensive. Yet the Chimp's lead-acid batteries—pedestrian technology all things considered, yet responsible for almost two-thirds of its 192 lbs—can be replaced, according to Doran, for at most $150 each. How about I just buy a battery-free version of this simian chassis for $50 and add a set of replacement batteries later?

The tactics. Doran's all-out guerilla assault on its competition is just a bit too transparent for me:

  • "The Chimp's soft plastic body could give an occasional nudge without serious complaint as it creeps and weaves through crowds of people.  Steel bodied vehicles can shatter bones." [The Motrec E-12 and Columbia Parcar's Chariot CR10 are made of lethal, bone-shattering steel]
  • "Easy and intuitive to drive.  You won't need lessons before jumping on it and driving it away (compared to 2-wheel balancing types)." [The Segway requires some learning—a trait we generally prefer other vehicle drivers possess]
  • "Roto-molded body is color-impregnated (no painting)." [The Motrec E-12, the Chariot CR10, and the T3 by T3Motion all had the horrible bad luck to be painted]

Conclusions

With a top speed under 12 mph, you won't need Usain Bolt-like speed to outrun a cop on one of these Chimps, unless you're laughing too hard to run.

If I had to say that among the Chimp, Segway, T3, Columbia Chariot, Motrec and the American Chariot, one actually stood out as having an extremely remote chance of being marginally practical, it would have to be the fastest (25 mph—faster even than Bolt) and by far most expensive of the bunch ($8,995), the T3—marketed to law enforcement organizations.

Travel writers know that one's destination is unimportant if you can't appreciate the journey. Jet planes have taken some of the richness out of that journey, but the trade-off is obvious: they permit us timely travel to locales we would otherwise never be fortunate enough to visit.

Personal transport vehicles, meanwhile, offer no such trade-off. Rather, they represent an evolutionary step backwards; a dawning revolution in human laziness, one that anticipates an anachronistic future in which nothing and no place is out of reach—provided you can get there on a buggy.

We already did that revolution, like a century ago.

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