Sinclair C5

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The Sinclair Research C5 is a battery electric vehicle invented by Sir Clive Sinclair and launched by Sinclair Research in the United Kingdom on 10 January 1985. The vehicle is a battery-assisted tricycle steered by a handlebar beneath the driver's knees. Powered operation is possible making it unnecessary for the driver to pedal. Its top speed of 15 miles per hour (24 km/h), is the fastest allowed in the UK without a driving licence. It sold for £399 plus £29 for delivery. It became an object of media and popular ridicule during 1980s Britain and was a commercial disaster, selling only around 12,000 units.

Contents

History

Sir Clive Sinclair started to think about electric vehicles as a teenager, and it was an idea he toyed with for decades. In the early 1970s Sinclair Radionics was working on the project. Sinclair had Chris Curry work on the electric motor. However, the company focus shifted to calculators and no further work was done on vehicles until the late 1970s. Development began again in 1979 and progressed erratically until, in 1983, it became apparent new legislation would alter the market and make it possible to sell a vehicle closely resembling development efforts.

As time went on, the Sinclair Research C5 development cost gradually increased. In March 1983, Sinclair sold some of his shares in Sinclair Research and raised £12 million to finance vehicle development. In May a new company, Sinclair Vehicles Ltd, was formed out of Sinclair Research and a development contract entered with Lotus to take the C5 design to production. At the same time, Hoover at Merthyr Tydfil contracted to manufacture the C5. This, together with the fact that the motors were made by Polymotor in Italy, started the urban myth that the C5 was powered by a washing machine motor.[1] In 1984, Sinclair Vehicles set up head office at the University of Warwick Science Park.

In November 2010 Sinclair told The Guardian he was working on a new prototype that should be launched within a year. "Technology has moved on quite a bit, there are new batteries available and I just rethought the thing. The C5 was OK, but I think we can do a better job now." He said the prototype was called the X1. [2]

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