In the early 1990s, when I was studying industrial design at Cal. State, Long Beach, I saw a full-size rendering a student had done of an enclosed motorcycle. I thought — wow! — that is the future of transportation. Now a San Francisco company, Lit Motors, is making that future a reality in the form of an electric, two-person vehicle called the C-1.

The benefits of this type of vehicle are many. The low frontal area reduces drag. This, combined with weight savings of ditching half a car, means efficiency without sacrificed performance. As a bonus, you get the feel of a motorcycle while retaining the weather protection of a roof and doors. And with the C-1 in particular, you also get style, unlike so many other economy vehicles out there. I’m looking at you, Prius.

In true future-vehicle fashion, the C-1 is gyroscopically stabilized. It will balance itself on two wheels at a traffic light or in an accident.

According to their website, the Lit team is targeting a range of up to 200 miles per 6-hour, 110V, charge. (Charging times drop to 4 hours with a 220V power source.) Base price will be around $19,900 after federal tax incentives. The launch is slated for 2014 and they’re currently accepting deposits.

Right now the only other enclosed motorcycle on the market is the gasoline-powered Monotracer from Switzerland, which sells here for a hefty $80,000.

I’d love to drive a C-1 and park my relatively thirsty Montero when I’m not on the trail.