When we find electric vehicles for this weekly column on China’s bottomless pit of a shopping megasite Alibaba, we generally look for something that looks weird, fun or at least remotely useful. This week I’d say we nailed the first two. I’m not quite sure what to call this thing, so I guess I’ll have to go with the name given to it by its creators: the Happy Car.
Though unless you have a stomach of steel, you might not be the happiest rider after a few revolutions in one of these.
I’ll do my best to describe the Happy Car accurately, though I’m going into this just about as ignorantly as you are.
What we have here is a giant tube with a big tire around each of the two ends. It’s something like a monowheel that you’d sit inside, except that it has two “wheels” to prevent the ol’ fall over and scrape your face off problem of monowheels.
There are two bucket seats with four point harnesses to keep
victims riders strapped in. You may be wondering why they need a four point harness, which is a fair question for something that looks like one of those rides outside of a dilapidated K-Mart that give you 30 seconds of bouncing on a plastic unicorn for a quarter.
Well the $3,300 Happy Car is a bit more action packed since the rider’s capsule is free to rock back and forth inside of the main barrel. That means if you accelerate or brake quickly enough, you can actually go inverted or completely flip over.
The round shape of this odd electric vehicle is of course a result of it being designed to roll around like a barrel. But I imagine that the engineers were likely clever enough to use it for another purpose. I’d bet dollars to donuts that there’s a convenient drain plug at the bottom so that it’s easier to remove the vomit and hose it off after each ride.
Don’t believe me about how stomach turning this must be? Take a look at the video below (skip to about 22 seconds in for the driving footage) and tell me that doesn’t look vomit-inducing. Oh, and maybe turn down your speakers too.
Somehow this contraption is actually powered by a pair of dinky little 300W electric motors. That’s barely more than the motor in an EU-legal electric bike.
But maybe the power is so low because the Happy Car just doesn’t go very fast.
The speed is listed in meters per minute, which is the first clue that you won’t be going anywhere quickly. But if you don’t mind cruising at 40-60 meters per minute (1.5-2 mph) then this could be the perfect ride for you and a friend.
Just make sure you and your friends aren’t taller than 185 cm (6’1″), as that’s the height limit for riders. There’s also a 200 kg (440 lb) weight limit, though it’s not clear if that’s for one rider or both.
If the rolling around and flipping over wasn’t enough stimulation for you, the Happy Car comes with a complete light package and customizable sounds to create a multi-pronged assault on the senses.
I’ll save that for someone braver and less prone to upchucking than myself.
But I can still admire just how weird Alibaba’s catalog of wacky electric vehicles has become. Gotta love the free market!