Consumer prototype first drive!

 CBS Detroit 

Edison2 Unveils New Super-MPG Car At The Henry Ford

DEARBORN — Finally, a 21st Century car that really looks like it came from the 21st Century.

The venue was appropriate. The Henry Ford is a shrine to American innovation, and the Edison2 is packed with innovation from stem to stern.

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Wednesday
May112011

A Few Questions

When can I buy a Very Light Car? This a question we are asked just about every day. We love everyone’s enthusiasm, but the answer is we simply don’t know. We are very hard at work on the next generation VLC, one that is roomier, friendlier, more stylish and with proven safety.  Three years? Maybe. But we consider ourselves to be “car first”: get the design and performance right and the rest will follow.

But one thing we are clear on: we are not going into the car manufacturing business. We know that we are experienced and competent at design, engineering, building and testing. But we have no experience whatsoever in manufacturing tens of thousands or even more of something, not to mention marketing and distributing. We will partner with or license our ideas to others with the experience we lack to bring the VLC to market.

How much will it cost?  We don’t know the answer to this one, either, but we know it will be affordable. It must be affordable: we cannot solve the problems of oil addiction or CO2 emissions with $40,000 or $50,000 cars. Design simplicity, mainstream materials and low-mass mean this will be a less than $20 thousand car…maybe significantly less.

Is there interest from large OEM’s?  Yes, lots.  But for reasons deeply embedded in their methods it is difficult for OEM's to quickly adopt our technology.  It is not “plug and play” with current legacy based vehicles. A new car from Ford or GM or Volkswagon reflects millions of dollars invested in things like suspensions, brakes, and drive-trains. Our car is a ground-up design – it is so light that it no longer requires a heavy suspension, or brakes, or a powerful engine, and in fact it uses no parts at all that come from other cars. Our approach just does not fit neatly into current business models.  Because we are "favored by physics" we feel it is certain at least some of our ideas will find their way into future cars.

How about a kit? We haven’t ruled out the idea of a kit as a learning vehicle, which would be an affordable, quick way to see some VLCs on the road. It may depend on how many people would be interested in a kit, so if you are, let us know!

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Reader Comments (46)

Yes, a kit would be awesome. My wife and I have talked about building some sort of kit car before and one that gets great fuel economy and seats 4? Can't go wrong with that.

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGreg H.

Have you considered partnering with this outfit?

http://www.local-motors.com/

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/oct2009/id20091028_848755.htm

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlackjax

I like the idea of a kit too ... It would make a great project although I have no idea how insurance and licensing would work.

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteve

I'm definitely interested in a kit. I've been driving an electric conversion for the past 15 years, and after installing a lithium pack, replacing the lead acid, it got me excited about building another EV. I want my next EV to be lightweight and efficient (my 914 is close, but I know I can do better). I was looking at other kit cars, but it seems that 2000lbs was a light as I could expect from almost any kit. Now if the VLC kit was available, I know I could build a fantastic EV that would meet all my needs. I really hope you are able to offer this. I'm sure you'd like to use these kits as beta testers and I'd be more than happy to document my project and provide plenty of information regarding the operation. I've sent a request to be put on a wait list for this in a separate email.

I've been following the Aptera story since 2007, and jumped on the VLC bandwagon just prior to the Xprize when I started hearing about the VLC development for the Xprize. It fit my original interest in the Aptera (lightweight and efficient), which was long gone by the time the Xprize came around. I've been closely following the VLC progress and really like the progress on the vehicle and the leadership and vision of the company. Keep up the good work guys.

Michael

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpalmer_md

A kit would be sweet! I will take an Edison V.L.C. any way I can get it!!! It may even be better than someone's "remake" of your genius initial design. I would hate to see the whole thing watered down to appeal to what the big auto companies think we want. I want a very close (if not identical to the original) Edison V.L.C. with manual transmission for transportation. I don't need or want a really expensive radio/GPS/back up camera/ movie theatre with a car attached to it so I can drive to work for 20-something mpg.

May 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Yes, I will buy and build a kit to get your vehicle out there. Please let us all know if you decide to go this route!

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Yes! Definitely count me in on a kit-car too. I am an ex-machinist and my Grand dad was a real NASA rocket scientist engineer. He has his own shop with a CNC mill and two manual lathes that I could use. I've stopped machining because of the trade becoming so narrow in the job market, but I still remember enough I think, to build a kit car. I would prefer to go with what I know, which is a small diesel engine, or whatever combustion engine is offered, but isn't that awesome that anyone could build it how they saw fit and still get an actually energy efficient vehicle? There are 3 hot rod mechanics that I know of who could help me iron out any kinks along the way. I also have some good friends that work in local tv broadcasting that I could get some "film" on the building process, and my journey of constructing my own Edison 2 V.L.C.! Perhaps on your web page, there could be a separate blog, or pictures gallery of people who built your kit into reality. Either way, once people start seeing kit cars on the road and buying them, or building them for other people, car companies will be much more convinced that it is worth the investment of manufacturing. I'm a musician as well, and one thing I have discovered is that record labels can't afford the financial loss of some band not making them money after they have already invested in them. They will only want bands that are already making their own money, and headlines. The same could be true about the mass production automotive industry. I've always wanted to build my own car, and the best car I think I could ever build would be an Edison 2 VLC. Oh one more thing, I want mine to be a manual transmission as well. No more stupid "shifters" which don't actually keep the car in gear anyway, it's like you get to pretend you had a choice, and I really hate that. I've seen kit car dune buggies get registered for the road after enough additions like headlights, turn lights, mirrors and so on, so I don't picture that being a big problem. I'm fine with the original design, but most importantly whatever design will work the best functionally, and it's build-ease level. I've built plenty of radio-controlled models, but not a whole real car, but it would be awesome to give it my all in building your VLC. Indeed, let us know what you guys think. I have idle hands, waiting to show the world, it can be done.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbiologist 111

Are you kidding me??? You might be giving me the chance to affordably build a kit car derived from the x-prize winner.....designed by a top flight team of race-car engineers and aerodynamicists......costing lots of R&D money.....devoted solely to pushing the envelope of efficiency past what had ever been achieved before??? Are you kidding me? Don't be teasing me with this Oliver. Seriously, this is a natural for the growing number of kit car enthusiasts with a social conscience. Kit car people tend to be would-be engineers drawn to the "ideas" in cars and the edison2 oozes them. I've been regularly checking your website, waiting to see what OEM will be brave enough to produce your design.....and praying along with many others, that the car doesn't get "bloated" in the process and stays a pure, simple, elegant machine. If you are trying to gauge support for the idea, count my voice an emphatic YES. Please give us this opportunity. We'll do you proud.
I'm thinking Fiat TwinAire Turbo. I have many questions about the suspension etc. When you start talkin' serious put my name near the top of the list please.

May 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobin Retzlaff

One thing I'm curious on Edison 2. Ok, you said that OEM's like Ford have great difficulty producing the V.L.C. because it is a ground up design. But I also know that most, perhaps almost all of the parts for a Ford GT are not "off the shelf." So, I'm thinking that what it really boils down to is liability, and cost. The Ford GT has a high profit margin. If you look at a company like Toyota, they have one car the Yaris starting around $13,000 and it gets 29/36 mpg. They also make the Prius but it starts around $23,500. So, historically, the big auto manufacturers don't have a good track record for making better mpg cars cheaper, or cars without "off the shelf" parts cheaper. Typically they cost much more. Car companies like cars costing more.
Another thing, liability. If they go through the trouble of building it and someone crashes and dies, and their family sues the company. There is a real danger that they will blame the car's light weight on the mortality. After all, it is why most people buy an SUV. "It's safe because it's so big and heavy." People many times when I talk about your V.L.C. say "Yeah it weighs 800 pounds, but what happens to you when a truck rig hits you going 80?" I tell them, the same thing that happens in the biggest SUV. But you see it's only after that discussion that people realize that weight=safe is an illusion.
So the biggest reason I see OEM's not producing your VLC is not the millions of dollars invested, but the liability of people suing the company based on an un-true assumption, and following from that gaining a bad reputation of not being safe, all from one idiot driver with a self-righteous family.
Now what you have here, right now at least, are fervid pragmatists of fuel economy that love your car, just the way it is. You have something very special. You have people on here who love your car so much, they will build it themselves, and pay more money for it, than an already built Toyota. So, while I totally understand big ideas of mass production making a much bigger impact. If it never goes into any kind of production, very sadly, even to the people who love it, and know of it's existence, it won't make any impact.

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbiologist 111

Count me in for a kit car. It could be build-to-print or build-to-plans, either way.

May 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert N.

Yes! Just tell me where to send the money. Body, suspension, chassis, are easy to put together. Sourcing the drive train would be the tricky part I think. How about using an existing power train like from a wrecked VW Golf Diesel? or Geo Metro? Too heavy? Your system would be great but it might need EPA approval, even for a kit car.

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess Walls

Having built a couple kayaks, I'd be tempted to put a fiberglass-sandwiched cedar strip body on mine. And possibly the use the "half VW" engine popular with ultralight airplane builders.

May 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark

As a mechanical engineer just starting out, I can say for certain that it is much more difficult to engineer an effective design that is clean and simple than a something heavy and complex. If this car were offered as a kit at a reasonable price, I would buy one. Actually, I would be more likely to buy one as a kit than a completed vehicle. The only may for me to justify owning a car would be if I could have the experience of building and maintaining it myself. I would never again commute using a car, but I would like one to tinker with and travel in periodically.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColin

It would truly be an honor and a privelege to build one of these. I know that many are unaware of the significance of the innovations embodied in this car of yours. But auto industry people are, as is anyone with an abiding technical interest in efficient auto design. The uncompromising focus on lightweight AND aerodynamics that gave rise especially to the suspension and body design of this car is something I have not seen the likes of before. But like you I believe it's time has come. It would be very generous indeed for you to provide this as a kit to the public. Since there would be no "donor" parts in the build, I assume it would be sold as a complete kit or with the chassis and suspension etc. sold as packages. I am ready to make shop space for it now......and ready to make a deposit.

May 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterColin

I've already registered my interest in a kit on facebook.
A couple thoughts have since come to mind. One of the issues kit cars face is the stigma of cheapness and build quality. As a complete kit, properly engineered to repeatable tolerances that half of the issue should be licked. But cars are also seen by who drives them and if one were to target exclusively the kitcar builder and hypermiler the wider impact would suffer as joe the plumber and jane the careerist aren't as readily warm to the geek factor.

Having seen the footage of it cornering hard I'm completely sold. But I still fall into the geek camp.
However if carefully marketed, with a proper sporting edge and carefully appointed inside so that laypeople aren't scared away, it may still make the penetration necessary to change something at the core of the market. And if the big outfits can't provide a competitor a proliferation of kitbuilt/contract built Edison2s could be the answer.

May 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDominic

I'm keen! I've been interested in building my own car for a while now, but nobody seems to offer a good lightweight, aerodynamic kit car. A four seat car that is fuel-efficient, has room for luggage and has decent performance is what I am looking for. It helps that the VLC also looks pretty awesome! If the overall build cost is reasonable (less than $10000) then consider me a potential customer.

I'm based in Cape Town, South Africa so hopefully the parts on the BOM can be easily shipped here or can be readily obtained from our local suppliers. I am more than willing to document my progress and be a test guinea pig. If I build a VLC, I plan on taking it on a long distance trip through Africa. If it can survive harsh African conditions it should be able to survive anywhere.

Keep up the good work guys!

May 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Ah, forgot to mention that I would need my car to be a right-hand drive version... Hopefully that won't be a problem.

May 23, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Edison,

I would surely consider a kit. Please consider a kit manufacturing process similar to that used by the Zenith Aircraft Company (http://www.zenithair.com/). They provide aluminum riveted construction and have multiple kit aircraft flying.

Best Regards,
Mike

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Paar

There are a lot of kit built car and airplane companies out there - a few of them are reputable. Perhaps licensing one of them would be the easiest way to proceed.

It may also be useful to consider such a design as a standard platform for universities and colleges who are interested in experimenting with various powerplants. It would be a nice way to have ballpark comparisons and even competitions among schools. i could see a few hundred from engineering programs alone.

May 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteve

Please consider overseas sales when producing the kit!

May 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterFred Della Bidia

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