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Culpeper plant to build trikes

A Culpeper company is preparing to launch its first product: a high-performance, three-wheeled vehicle called the Invader.

Tanom Motors held the ribbon cutting Tuesday for the 55,000-square-foot assembly plant at 730 Old Brandy Road.

“We’re pleased that Tanom chose Virginia,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said during the ceremony. “We know that they looked at Detroit.”

He said the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles had to coin the term “autocycle” for the Invader, which melds the thrill of riding a motorcycle with the comfort of driving a sports car.

“It will turn a lot of heads on the road,” said McDonnell, who was one of a number of state and local officials at the ceremony.

Tanom Motors started work four years ago on the prototype for the Invader, a “reverse trike” with two wheels in front and one large one in back. It’s powered by a 1340 cc Suzuki Hayabusa engine and is available in three models.

They’re the TR–3 roadster, TC–3 coupe and the limited edition Red Rocker, which features input from American rock vocalist, guitarist, songwriter and musician Sammy Hagar.

Tanom Motors President and CEO Sandy Hall came up with the concept for the Invader. He said that he wanted to create a reverse trike people could buy ready made instead of having to make one from a kit.

The longtime motor enthusiast figured it would appeal to people who had never considered owning a motorcycle due to concerns about stability, balance and control, but would enjoy a motorcycle’s sound, styling and performance.

Like a sports car, the Invader has two side-by-side bucket seats, a steering wheel, gas, brake and clutch pedals, and a six-speed shifter with an electric reverse gear.

Tanom Motors expects to complete its federal emissions and brake tests by the end of November and begin selling the Invader at the beginning of 2014.

So far, about 100 dealers have expressed interest in carrying the trike, but the company plans to start with five. They include Village Motorsports in Unionville, which sells Tanom the Suzukis that it tears down for needed parts, said David Young, Tanom’s chief financial officer.

“I only want to produce 75 the first year,” he said. “We’re starting up the assembly line and we have employees to train and procedures to refine.”

He said that he expects the company will sell 500 Invaders in 2015 and will increase production based on demand.

Tanom currently has 20 employees at the Culpeper assembly plant, but expects to have 300 once the operation is in full gear.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

 

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