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Nathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion finds his spaceship

Monday 23 August 2010, by Webmaster

Electric car prototype gets star treatment

Yes, Eugene. Two certifiable TV stars drove around town on Saturday in a rig that looked like some kind of Mad Max dune buggy contraption.

Nathan Fillion — familiar to sci-fi fans for his role in the short-lived but popular “Firefly” series and currently the heartthrob star of ABC’s mystery comedy “Castle” — came up to test drive an electric car being developed in Eugene by Arcimoto.

Fillion brought “Castle” co-star Jon Huertas with him and after the two took a little gander through the Saturday Market, they put pedal to the metal on Arcimoto’s fourth prototype of its Pulse, a sleek three-wheeled electric vehicle with a top speed of 65 mph.

They took it out for a spin on Dillard Road — beloved by drivers for its excellent twists and turns.

“I was floored by the handling,” Huertas said. “It’s amazing.”

“You can really feel the road,” Fillion said. “It’s got all the thrill of a motorcycle without all the ‘Oh God, oh God, I’m going to die.’ ”

Thank the hefty roll cage for that.

The two actors say they’re tech geeks with a penchant for the latest gadgets, but also with grave concerns about the environment.

They say they’d like to see the nation disconnect from its attachment to foreign oil, and a reduction in vehicle carbon dioxide emissions that are likely strong contributors to climate change.

They live in Los Angeles, ground zero of the nation’s car culture. While Fillion drives a hybrid car, it’s big enough to seat five people and he acknowledges he is mostly its sole passenger, barring nights out with his girlfriend.

So Fillion and Huertas have been looking online for a smaller fully electric vehicle, and when they stumbled on Arcimoto’s website, they fell for the sleek look of the Prototype 3 Pulse, with its blue body and streamlined style.

The car seats just two, tandem style with two wheels in front and one in the back.

“We were awestruck,” Huertas said.

They were also attracted by Arcimoto’s desire to make the car affordable, with a price well under $20,000 so that more people can afford it.

“It’s one of those things where everybody can do their part,” Fillion said.

They immediately e-mailed Arcimoto and asked about taking the car out for a test spin.

The timing speaks a lot about their passion. Fillion and Huertas are midway through filming season three of “Castle.” Fillion plays a mystery novelist who hangs out with New York City Police investigators — Huertas is a detective — and that means long hours on the job. The two flew up to Eugene on Friday night after Huertas wrapped up shooting his scenes at close to midnight. Their flight home left Eugene this morning at 5 a.m. and they’ll likely be back on set by 5 a.m. Monday.

Arcimoto President Mark Frohnmayer was happy to oblige them.

He picked them up at Saturday Market, not in a car that would take them to the workshop on Blair Avenue, but in the Pulse itself. He just showed up, got out and handed them the keys.

“We were like two little kids. We bit our fists,” Huertas said.

Both actors have paid their $500 to reserve a car when the Pulse goes into production.

Frohnmayer, for his part, is just as excited to have a couple of high-profile early adopters.

When Fillion first tweeted on Aug. 13 about the car — “I found it! I found my space ship! It’s real and I’m getting it.” — his 600,000 plus Twitter fans swarmed the site and temporarily brought it down, according to a blog posting by entrepreneurial expert and author Tim Berry.

Frohnmayer hopes that among Fillion’s Twitter fans, there will be other early adopters as well.

“We’ve been working on this project for almost four years and we just got our latest prototype on the road,” he said. “It would be impossible to afford this level of media exposure, and what is so humbling is his (Fillion’s) honest level of enthusiasm for the project.”

Frohnmayer expects the company will produce a fifth prototype before going into production — likely at the start of 2011.

But that’s contingent on lining up investors, he said.