The Carver is a tilting three-wheeled all-electric vehicle. In the UK, it can be driven in the bus lane as it’s classified as a scooter, which helps save time on busy city commutes. Carver Europe B.V., which previously operated under the name of Brink Technologies Group and Brink Dynamics have been around since 1994 and initially sold petrol-only models.
In 2019, the Dutch company identified a rise in the popularity of electric vehicles and as such, brought ‘The Carver’ to market, which aimed to help commuters complete their journeys without emitting any harmful fumes. In this review, we’ll be looking to compare the unique EV to compact all-electric cars and scooters.
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Carver price & competition
At the time of writing, the Carver is available in a few different variations: S+ from £15,487, R+ from £14,398 and the base model from £10,989. There’s also the Cargo, which sacrifices the second seat in favour of a 500-litre storage compartment, making it convenient for small businesses to transport goods or equipment. A breakdown of the differences can be found below (click to expand):
As the Carver is classified as a scooter, there are different means of riding the three-wheeled vehicle; as per the manufacturer’s description: “If you look at the back of your driving licence and have class A then you can drive all Carvers. You may already have this even if you have never driven a motorcycle. The Carver Base and R+ models are classified as motorized scooters, you can drive the Carver in the UK with a provisional, plus having passed a CBT – learning plates are required in this instance.
The Carver S+ will require a Full UK driving licence or motorcycle driving licence (A or A1). You can drive/ride a motor tricycle of any power rating if you’re over 21 and have a full car driving licence.”
There’s no direct competition, but there are a few all-electric cars to consider, such as: the Citroen Ami from £7,695, the City Transformer, which costs between €12,500 and €16,000, and the Smart fortwo coupé from £22,225. Of course, you might also want to consider an electric scooter or bike, such as the Super Soco TS Street Hunter at £3,799, the Sunra Miku Super at £3,499 and the Sunra Robo-S at £3,299, among others.
Carver design & features review
The Carver’s design is quite unique, as the bike will tilt either way at up to 45° while on the move. However, when parked, it sits upright – we only tilted it for the photos as we placed it in service mode. We’ll expand on how this impacts the driving experience further down.
Regardless of its leaning abilities, the vehicle’s exterior design is certainly a head-turner. Its compact frame means the three-wheeled vehicle sits somewhat in between a regular scooter and a small-sized car – the S+ is 2.89m long, 1.06m wide and 1.49m tall, while the base model and R+ are a little narrower at 0.98m.
As a result of its size, it’s extremely easy to park and manoeuvre. There’s really no need for sensors or a rearview camera, thus their omission isn’t problematic. However, you will have to consider where you park it, as it’s larger than most bikes, it’ll have to be wedged diagonally in order to fit in a motorcycle bay – a benefit of getting the Carver over alternative small-sized cars, as more often than not, parking for bikes is free of charge.
While the vehicle has a compact size, it certainly doesn’t feel it within the cabin. There is a sense of spaciousness while sitting at the front, especially given the seat can be moved back and forth. It is worth noting that the rear seat is made out of hard plastic, so won’t be comfortable for longer drives, however, the main seat at the front is sufficiently padded and more comfortable than the ones found in the Citroen Ami; two 6ft (182cm), 70kg individuals can easily be accommodated in the three-wheeler.
The Carver also offers a few extra amenities over the likes of the Ami, with a heated windscreen, basic heater controls and Bluetooth audio via a pair of lively speakers located towards the front of the cabin. The singular USB Type-A port can be used to provide charge to a smartphone too.
Moving onto the use of technology, it’s rather simplistic, with an LCD display showing key driving information, with the buttons beneath it allowing you to reset your trip computer and switch between the three available drive modes.
One will be quick to notice, however, that there are a few things that haven’t been correctly optimised. For example, the left stalk for the headlights is rendered useless as the LEDs remain powered on at all times for safety, while the one used for your wiper controls doesn’t have an intermediate function, but rather the low and high modes only.
Read next: Citroen Ami review: The perfect compact EV?
Carver storage & comfort review
In terms of its weight, it comes in at 330kg and its maximum-rated load with passengers and cargo is 500kg. Speaking of which, the Cargo model offers 500 litres of storage space and 75 litres behind the driver’s seat. The consumer model only has the latter and a small area found at the back, which is sufficient for a medium-sized backpack or a few groceries.
To provide support, the singular tyre at the front is 120/70 on a 14″ profile, while the two at the rear are 135/60 sitting on 13″ rims. There are a set of shock absorbers at the front and springs at the back.
This all results in a comfortable riding experience, especially if you compare it to the likes of the rather clunky Citroen Ami, which suffers from a lot of road noise and resonance. The Carver, on the other hand, is more premium but won’t come anywhere near the Smart EQ Fortwo.
Aside from small-sized cars, it should also be compared to motorcycles. Indeed, the Carver provides weather protection due to its cabin design, which shelters you from the elements. Should you want to feel closer to nature and have wind blowing into the cabin, you can drop the Carver’s soft top. It’s easy enough to do and requires a certain rolling technique in order to hoist it into place. This allows for summer drives to be a lot more enjoyable.
Although, you will want to consider that if there is bright sunlight coming into the cabin from the front of the vehicle, there is no vizor to block the sun from blinding your vision. Likewise, due to the curvature of the windscreen, bright headlights in the dark can impair your sight.
Carver performance review
With that said, visibility throughout the cabin is excellent, and with indicators and side mirrors fitted as standard one can easily check the surroundings. This leads us to the riding experience, and frankly, there’s nothing quite like the Carver. Its leaning feature means that you’re always engaged with the vehicle, be it when you’re swerving in and out of traffic or just taking a corner. It’s an absolute joy to ride.
The three driving modes, Sport, Normal and Comfort determine the aggressiveness and responsiveness of the tilt. Sport mode is sharper and engages the system a lot more than the other two modes provide for a more pleasurable experience when you’re pottering around town.
Aside from the driving modes, there is no means of customising the leaning strength, but it’s connected with how the bike responds to input on the steering wheel – the sharper and faster you turn, the more you’ll feel the vehicle leaning, especially in its Sport mode preset. The only consideration is that you’ll not want to be driving too fast before initiating a hard turn. The system will warn you with an audible beep to indicate that you’re traversing too fast for the intended leaning angle; see it in some ways, as a safety feature that isn’t present on a regular scooter.
This brings us to its performance, and with the S+ model on review, we found it to be nippy with its two 3.5 kW rear-mounted motors dispatching a total of 7 kW and 200 Nm of torque. It’s always a joy to propel an EV forwards without having to wait for the transmission or engine to kick in. The Carver’s linear torque also makes for a smooth feel when driving at higher speeds.
On that note, the Carver S+ can get up to around 50mph (80km/h), while the R+ and base model can get up to around 30mph (48km/h). The former allows you to take the scooter on UK B-roads and single-carriageways, thus not limiting you to the city centre.
However, you might want to venture too far from home, as the Carver’s electric range is limited by its 7.1 kWh battery pack (5.4 kWh in the base model). Due to its size, you should be able to attain 65 miles of real-world range in the R+, and 50 miles in the S+ and base model – tested with a 70kg rider.
While that might not sound too much on paper, it should suffice for all your city commutes. To put things into perspective, the much larger Smart EQ Fortwo goes only slightly further at a tested 70 miles, the Citroen Ami at 40 miles and a selection of electric mopeds and bikes offering between 30-60 miles. So, in the grander scheme of things, the Carver is rather efficient and outclasses a lot of its rivals.
In order to help be as efficient as possible, there’s a degree of regenerative braking that takes place at the rear axle. It’s done automatically, with no means of customisation and isn’t harsh.
Of course, if you want to recoup energy at a much faster rate, you’ll want to plug it in. At the back of the Carver, there is a 3-pin socket on a pulley system, which allows you to charge the non-removable battery. The cable is plenty long and when plugged into a wall socket, will take roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes to go from empty to full, or three hours from 0-80%. The base model has a different type of battery pack, so will take four hours and five hours, respectively.
One can also get a Type 2 adapter in order to use it with a public charge point, though, bear in mind that you won’t be able to utilise 7 kW+ speeds due to the limitations of its onboard charger.
Read next: Smart EQ Fortwo review: The best city car?
TotallyEV’s verdict on the Carver
Aside from its novelty, the Carver is a very practical solution for those who live in and around busy cities. You’ll beat the traffic, as it’s classified as a scooter, where it can be ridden in almost every bus lane and of course, one can filter through traffic.
It’s also comfortable, practical and very fun to ride. If you consider its asking price and the overall package, it’s a sensible alternative to the Citroen Ami and Smart EQ Fortwo, and provides extra protection over regular scooters and bikes. We can thoroughly recommend it for those looking for a city runaround and as such, it receives TotallyEV’s Best Buy award.