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Thursday, August 1,2013

An ELF in August

Lansing resident becomes first person in Michigan to own brand new hybrid vehicle

by Sam Inglot
Lansing resident Yvonne LeFave in her new ELF. Sam Inglot/City Pulse

Thursday, Aug. 1 — For Lansing resident Yvonne LeFave, Christmas came early this year. On Wednesday, she became the first person in the state to own an ELF.


"It's Christmas in August," LeFave, 48, said with a laugh. "I have an ELF."


The ELF pedals like a bike, but it has the get-up-and-go of a moped. The ELF is basically a road-worthy tricycle with a solar-powered motor. It is covered with an orange polycarbonate shell, which features taillights, blinkers, side view mirrors and a solar panel on the roof.


ELF stands for "electric, light and fun," LeFave said, and is the product of Organic Transit, a Durham, N.C.-based startup. LeFave said she is the first person in Michigan to own one of the new vehicles.


"It's got the electric motor, which will help me extend my range. It will hold 350 pounds, plus me. It will keep me out of the elements so I can do more travel without having to worry about that. And it makes me a whole lot more visible on the road, even with other traffic," LeFave said. "I have lights, I have mirrors and I have bright orange cover. If other cars don't see this, there's a problem."


LeFave got her ELF through a Kickstarter that Organic Transit started to help get the company up and running. The company's goal was $100,000, she said, but they wound up raising $227,000.


"There's so much interest in this thing," she said.


The ELF ran LeFave $4,000 through the Kickstarter, but for other buyers, it will cost about $6,500, she said.


For LeFave, the cost is well worth it as it will be her primary mode of transportation. LeFave stopped driving cars over two decades ago.


"This will be my car. This is my car," she said. "I stopped driving around 1990. That was for the first Gulf War. They had all these chants, "No blood for oil." And I thought, you know what? You're right. It's pretty much been on two wheels since then."


LeFave said while she can't take her ELF on the highway, she could take it on any other road. The ELF will go about 20 mph, she said, and only using the electric motor will take you about that same distance. On Monday, she plans on hopping in her ELF and taking a trip to Grand Rapids.

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