Durham man's green machines attract celebrity clientele

Posted February 15, 2013
Updated February 16, 2013

— Those who live close to work sometimes commute by bike, but Rob Cotter hopes they’ll consider other green machines.

Cotter started Organic Transit in downtown Durham about a year ago to bring environmentally friendly vehicles to the market, such as the Elf, a solar-pedal hybrid that uses solar energy to power a motor.

“It carries, like, eight bags of groceries. You can take it down bike trails. (It’s) very, very efficient and very clean,” Cotter said.

Business has been booming for Organic Transit, which has sold 75 green machines in the past two months, and it's attracting some big-name fans. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld dropped by the office when he performed in Durham earlier this month.

“He's a big bike rider. This fits in between his love of sports cars and bicycles,” Cotter said.

At a base price of $4,000, an Organic Transit vehicle could be a perfect solution for an urban commuter.

Elf Earth-friendly Elf propels Durham transit company's success

“People can commute to work, come in on electric power, come in clean, refreshed (and) out of the rain,” Cotter said.

Users let it charge in the sun all day, pedal it home at night, and the charged battery is ready in the morning. Cotter says the vehicles could play a big role in the future of clean transportation. But, he says, the Organic Transit trikes have another big selling point.

“It's fun. These vehicles are a lot of fun to ride. You get in it, and you can't stop smiling,” he said.

The bodies and frames are manufactured in North Carolina and assembled in Durham. Organic Transit is testing some new models in the next few months that might show up on Triangle roads.

The company is planning to expand into Europe and Asia.


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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Feb 18, 2013

    These vehicles are basically bicycles. So don’t worry, they’re not allowed on highways.

    It’s a cool idea and certainly a great way to travel for some folks. It beats having to pay to park a car. You could even pull right up to the front of a store, DPAC, restaurant, etc. and lock it up to the bike rack. Bonus! :-)

  • 68_dodge_polara Feb 18, 2013

    Good points, celebrities seem to like to have their pictures taken with them but would any of them use one for their daily travels?

  • TruthBKnown Banned Again01 Feb 18, 2013

    I would only take this thing on a short trip, like a few miles away from home. No way I'd take this thing on a highway. I don't think it is designed for that, anyway.

  • A City Girl Feb 18, 2013

    1- Jerry Sinfeld just looked and didn't buy?
    2- Pretty dangerous in Durham, can you imagine driving this thing in RTP? I know you can't take it on the highway but some streets would be just as bad as driving on a hwy!!
    3-Can you park it where bikes are parked and how would you stop thieves from stealing it? I have to agree with previous poster, great idea for kids in the yard but not really for an adult to substitute for a car to get to work in one piece...sorry Rob Cotter, I won't be coming aboard.
    PS What does Al Gore have to do with this specific bike contraption?

  • superman Feb 15, 2013

    It might be fun to ride in your backyard or in a cow pasture but it wouldnt do well on the beltline. My grandson might like one but as for me--I wouldnt use one if the government was giving them away.

  • Ex-Republican Feb 15, 2013

    You won't find the rather rotund Al Gore riding one. He prefers SUVs and private jets to commute between his three mansions. What a hypocrit!