Engineers at Bath University yesterday unveiled a project to build a three-wheeled, tilting micro-vehicle which is only a metre wide, has a top speed of 50mph, and runs on compressed natural gas.

The Clever (Compact Low Emission Vehicle for Urban Transport) car is planning to outwit the Smart car, overtaking it as a the fashionable and environmentally less damaging way of getting about town.

The design, still at a research stage, is being funded chiefly by the EU, which has committed £1.5m to the project. Work is also being carried out by German, French and Austrian scientists.

The first prototype is not expected to be assembled until late next year. If it goes into production, the vehicle – which will “combine the safety of a car with the manoeuvrability of a motorbike” – is budgeted to cost around £6,500.

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