Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cool car with 2 wheels - the C-1 by Lit Motors

Lit Motors has is coming out with an enclosed motorcycle with all the amenities of a car and an electric power train. It stays stable with built-in gyroscopes and control software that Lit Motors has been working on for 8 years. It does have a "kickstand" for parking. For anyone who has read this blog before it looks very much like some of the recumbent streamliners or velomobiles shown here before. In fact it looks very much like a sketch of 2 wheel velomobile that I have been drawing except that the wheels are unfaired.

The stats are impressive:

  • Range: approximately 200 Miles
  • Battery pack: 8KWh to 10KWh still working it out
  • Top Speed: 120 mph
  • 0 to 60: roughly 6 seconds
  • Cost: roughly $24,000
  • Motors: 40 kW Hub motors in each wheel, that's right an AWD motorcycle

The vehicle shown is a concept bike so there are unfinished details such as headlights, windshield wipers, etc. But production is supposed to start in 2013 with its launch price of $24k and a target price of $16k once it is mass produced. It gets roughly three times the range of the Nissan Leaf with roughly one third the batteries. Depending on how Lit Motors engineers the charge port this means that the range per hour of charge can be very high, up to 100 miles of range per hour of charging with a standard Level 2 charger. If they use the cheaper design it would be 50 miles of range per hour of charging. Either one exceeds the Leaf's charge times of 10 miles of range per hour. I don't believe they have any desire to support Level 3 fast charging at this time.

Space wise it fits driver + 1 where the one is relatively cramped. That same spot is for cargo, and could easily fit groceries, dry cleaning, a hiking backpack, my two small dogs (Casey and Lucy), etc. It is designed for commuting and light errands which most people do alone. It is also designed for safety. It will have airbags and the gyroscopic system is designed to detect impact and maintain stability. This means that if it is T-Boned it will skid to the side and remain upright. There are 1300 ft-lbs of torque available in the flywheels. The C-1 also drives like a car, albeit a car that leans into turns. They produced this nice video which has some interesting imagery as well showing the driver's point of view as she goes through San Francisco.

For me this is a great vehicle for a new college graduate living in an apartment. I assume that charging is something that apartment owners are going to have to deal with. Putting in L2 chargers underneath car ports seems a no-brainer to me. But putting that aside, this would have been great for me when I graduated. I could go to and from work, pick up my groceries, pick up a date, go on hikes, take a trip to Portland, drive out to Vancouver, BC. Heck you could pick up a TV or computer easily enough. Anyone single could use this as their main vehicle without much trouble. It is all weather and the range is great. The standard couple in the US has two cars nowadays. Replacing one car with a c-1 seems to make sense. It can do all the light errands, commuting and even be a date night vehicle.

Personally my wife and I had been considering an EV this year, either the Ford Focus EV or the Nissan Leaf looked like a good second car. But for my usage patterns the C-1 is better. The extra range opens up some solo excursions such as hiking in North Bend and trips to the Human Powered Challenge@PIR (Portland, OR). I could visit friends in Wenatchee and bring a folding bicycle as well. It is over $10,000 cheaper than the Leaf and Focus as well as having lower operating costs. I am strongly considering putting down a reservation at Lit Motors.

Here is a slideshow of pictures I collected of the C-1. Edited to correct specs based on emails from Lit Motors.

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