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Photos: Three-wheeling in the city

Prototype commuter car from Europe could be just the thing for tight spaces and high gas prices.
By Bill Detwiler, Contributor
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The Clever prototype minicar

It's short, it's skinny, and it gets the equivalent of 108 miles per gallon. It's the Clever vehicle, a prototype from a conglomeration of European groups, including automaker BMW. Unveiled in Britain on Monday, Clever--short for compact low-emission vehicle for urban transport--is designed to combine the features of a micro car and a motorbike. Just over three feet wide, the Clever seats two, with the passenger directly behind the driver.

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Frame of Clever car

This view, without the side panels, shows off the Clever's frame, which is meant to offer the relative safety of a micro car. The vehicle has a top speed of approximately 60 mph and can go from zero to 40 in seven seconds. It runs on compressed natural gas.

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Matt Barker and Ben Drew

Two of the men behind the Clever design are Matt Barker (left) and Ben Drew, research officers at the University of Bath's Centre for Power Transmission and Motion Control. The engineers devised a tilting-chassis concept to help keep the three-wheeler stable when cornering.

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Side view of Clever car

The Clever is the result of a 1.5 million pound ($2.7 million) research effort, funded by the European Union. Besides BMW and the University of Bath, partners included organizations in France and Austria.

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