State’s DMV: Slingshot not a motorcycle

By By Bud Wilkinson

Polaris Industries won’t see its Slingshot model sold in Connecticut anytime soon. A recent test drive of the Slingshot by Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles failed to convince the agency to allow the new three-wheeled model to be registered in the state.

Polaris brought a Slingshot to DMV headquarters in Wethersfield on Dec. 8 for inspection and a test drive, but the result was that DMV reaffirmed its earlier ruling that the reverse trike cannot be “classified or registered as a motorcycle.”

The company maintains that the Slingshot is a motorcycle and not an automobile because “it does not have airbags, it does not meet automotive safety standards,” according to fine print on the Slingshot website.

However, in a Dec. 10 letter to Polaris, DMV senior attorney Sharon Geanuracos reiterated DMV’s position and suggested that Polaris pursue legislative options. She explained, “It is the consensus of the DMV that this vehicle closely resembles an automobile in appearance, and is equipped (brake, clutch, accelerator, steering wheel, four cylinder engine, seatbelt, gear shifter, etc.) and handles like an automobile rather than a motorcycle.”

The letter went on to detail that the state definition of a motorcycle excludes vehicles that have an enclosed driver’s seat, which the Slingshot has, and a motor that is not in the enclosed area. The Slingshot’s engine is in a separate compartment from the driver’s seat.

“For these reasons, we believe it is within the province of the legislature to develop a separate classification for this vehicle and similar vehicles that are also attempting to enter the market in Connecticut,” Geanuracos wrote.

Damon Libby of Libby’s Motoworld in New Haven, which is a Polaris dealer, said that he’ll now push to get the legislature in its next session to amend the existing statute to allow for the registration of the Slingshot.

“I don’t think this will be a problem. We have the backing of several senators and several representatives. It might take a little time, but it will come about,” Libby said.

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