Consumer prototype first drive!

Working tirelessly since their X-Prize victory, Edison2 reaches a coveted milestone February 27, 2013. 

Photos on Flickr
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Thursday
Aug022012

Edison2, Local Motors & Siemens: The VLC Design Challenge

Since introducing the electric Very Light Car almost a year ago, Edison2 has been quietly busy designing a dramatic new version of the Very Light Car, although work on the next generation VLC actually started before the ink was dry on our $5 million X Prize check. The updated Very Light Car is much more than just a pre-production version of the X Prize prototype.  It is a completely new vehicle, using the same underlying architecture and with the same virtues of efficiency that won us the X Prize.

Now we are collaborating with open source community Local Motors and Siemens PLM on an exciting design competition. Anyone can join the Local Motors community to create an aerodynamic new door handle for the Next Generation VLC, using Siemens Solid Edge Design1, part of the software suite used at Edison2. The competition begins August 1, and the submission deadline is August 12. As with their other design challenges, Local Motors provides a downloadable “ignition kit”, to give entrants the tools and assets needed to work on designs.

Our work on the Next Generation VLC actually started before the ink was dry on our $5 million X Prize check. The X Prize VLC was purpose-built to demonstrate the importance of platform efficiency ... and to win the competition.  

Designed to meet the letter of the rules, it is an uncompromising vision of light, aerodynamic efficiency. We knew that as we moved toward a production model we would make improvements.

The sleek new shape of the Next Generation VLC is an aerodynamic improvement over the angular X Prize design, helping to offset requirements such as bumpers and mirrors, while also improving driver visibility. Larger wheels allow more in-wheel suspension travel, improving ride quality. The interior will have simple but sophisticated fit-and-finish. With an eye towards eventual mass production, the chassis is now aluminum sheet metal instead of tubular steel.

Finally, getting into the VLC will be easy. The car will have a lower door sill, an improved door swing mechanism and, with the help of the Local Motors community and Siemens Solid Edge, an aerodynamic and effective door handle. 

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Reader Comments (13)

The new design is just brilliant! I love it!

What are the drag coeffecient numbers for this new design?

I'm saving up my pennies to get one of these :)

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZiven

Get it out for the target price of under $20k (or even a bit above that), with an internal combustion engine, a way to buy it in Ohio (unless I'm not in Ohio by the time it comes out) and this'll be the first new car I buy. The nose looks a bit weird but otherwise it looks stunning.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbhtooefr

It takes a small highly focussed group to shake things up. Your theoretical work and novel solutions are exceptional, but I am sure you don't need anyone else to tell you that.

It is obvious that the big car manufacturers are starting to take notice and are taking design cues from your work. What do the R&D departments of the car manufacturers have to do, when you are doing so much work and showing it on your website?

But you will have to be careful and start getting vehicles produced otherwise the large manufacturers will be out in the market.

Smaller companies were taken over during the last century or went out of business because of many different reasons. Aptera is a good case in point.

But, for my annual mileage, if I can run an old second-hand car at 50mpg or more equivalent, with fuel cost of £1000 per annum, it will never be worth spending £20,000 on a new car, because the loss of interest on the money, and the fuel cost at 100mpg of £500 means that buying a new car is always uneconomic.

Getting to 200 mpg for £250 fuel cost might be worth it, but this is just changing fuel costs to capital costs. If however your maintenance costs, and I mean long-term costs, up to 250,000 miles, are significantly lower - no cambelt changes, or camchain tensioners that fail, no valve adjustment, fewer brake pad changes, high quality stainless exhausts that don't rust through in 3-4 years, EGR valves that don't clog up, intake valves and inlet mainfolds that don't clog up because of the fuel type, high pressure diesel fuel pumps that fail at £1000 a go, dual mass flywheels that fail at £1000 a go every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, or engines that sludge up costing £600 to desludge every 50,000 to 80,000 miles. Or inlet mainfolds with flaps that break off.

And you make sure that you make all components very accessible for any maintenance, e.g. so that the mechanics don't have to take the front of the car off to do an oil change or cambelt change, or use electric pumps that are separate and can be changed in 15 minutes for coolant, oil etc.

If you can design a car without those unreliable things and prove it to be reliable.........I will be the first in the queue to buy one!

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSecret Admirer

The new nose looks somewhat like a hammerhead shark, to me. I like the new lowered roofline, too.

I'm hoping you settle on an electric drivetrain, and/or a serial hybrid. The new aluminum frame will be great to see -- as will the v4 prototype I know you are working hard on.

Neil

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNeilBlanchard

Great work-- what's next? (i.e. when can I buy one?)
There is no reason for this to be hybrid or plug-in, as it gets better mileage than any hybrid or plug-in on the market. The Prius seats 5, gets nearly 50mpg, and costs $25K. Seems to me that's the main competition. If you can seat 4 and get 80mpg for the same price, you'll be in good shape, as people would save $1600 a year over the Prius at $4 a gallon. And in 5 years as charge stations multiply and batteries continue to get cheaper, you can do an electric version.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

P.S. Spectacular paint job!

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

As an inventor of the New Modular Hydraulic Powertrain (MHP) (See Google: Grigoriy Epshteyn Patents) I would like to introduce my stunning innovation for partnering in realization.
The patented in U.S., Japan and China MHP includes Any Power Single Cylinder Omnivorous Diesel engine with coaxially build-in supercharger and pump fastened by valve plate to standard hydrostatic motor driving car without hoses and pipes. Engine piston fastened to pump’s plunger. Swash plate synchronizing mechanism provides fully balanced opposite motion of engine and supercharger pistons, continuously variable displacement (CVD) and continuously variable compression ratio (CVCR) with about three time greater fuel economy.

Such impressive number confirms the University of Michigan Automotive Research Center
(see http://me.engin.umich.edu/autolab/Publications/P2009_10.htm).
This research got a result of 77.68 mpg on the highway and 46.50 mpg in city fuel consumption for a mid-size passenger car due to the CVD gasoline engine with the following conclusion: “The advanced powertrain configuration investigated in this work is a high performance option for the mid-size passenger vehicle. Therefore, while predict fuel economy improvements are impressive, they do not represent the ultimate potential.” and the conclusion continues: “…and possible benefits of using a variable compression ratio is apparent”.

The MHP diesel has additional benefits and, for example, the existent mid-size car like Ford “Taurus” with 90 mpg is possible by retrofitting only engine and automatic transmission!

E-mail: greteyn@gmail.com

August 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGrigoriy Epshteyn

Does anyone know the drag coefficient on this "next generation VLC" and how that compares with prize winner which I think is 0.16?
Also what is the weight (estimated)?
Is there a working prototype? This photo looks real but I have made that mistake before. I think it's a great achievement and I look forward to watching the progress. And maybe some day buying/leasing one to replace my Nissan LEAF.

August 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Suding

Very encouraging to see the next gen. Just a reminder, Edison: deer on the road and snow and ice. Both of these things are regular issues for a lot of us. Test those wheel fairings in cold yuck, and when it comes to crash testing (oh, the pain...) please think about large animals. Deer kill a lot of people every year in vehicle collisions. My wife and I looked at a Honda Fit, but there is no nose on the thing and it will scoop a deer right into the windshield. I am afraid so far the new VLC looks to have that problem. Otherwise, I am a fan!

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRandal

Farms might be a more open opportunity for motor vehicle development, since fashion considerations might be less important in this market.

High efficiency road vehicles can come later.


For now, look at youtube.com and type: Miastrada Dragon

August 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Bullis

Is it just me, or was the LocalMotors design competition a bust? I just now read about it, and a <2 week window for a design competition with little effort put into spreading the word seems to have resulted in roughly one half dozen half-baked ideas.

Certainly not anything worth $6000 in award money.

Will there be an extension on this design competition? I immediately had some ideas for making a light-weight, simple, flush door handle mechanism and pursued the link to find that the competition was 1) over and 2) seemingly unsuccessful.

September 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris O.

Take cues from the honda Insight first gen. Leanburn is great. Doesn't rust at all except fuel lines, brake lines, bolts, etc.

Why not put a 2000 Insight into your VLC. I garuantee it'll be FAST and break 100mpg.

September 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Acevedo

I've been keeping an eye on Edison2 for a while (especially since it became clear Aptera was going to go belly up without ever producing a car).

I'd heard you all got one of the Aptera designers on board, and it shows, the new car is very pretty.

However, it seems more of a design exercise than a real car like your first gen vehicles, as there is now no way for the front wheels to steer!

I see there are now cutouts, I assume you will have to thicken the insides of the pods so the front wheels can steer in the fashion of a more traditional car, instead of having the entire pod move?

Sam

November 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSam

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