Automotive

Next-generation Very Light Car architecture takes center stage

Next-generation Very Light Car...
New VLC rolling-chassis on display at The Henry Ford Museum
New VLC rolling-chassis on display at The Henry Ford Museum
View 22 Images
New VLC rolling-chassis
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New VLC rolling-chassis
The next generation Very Light Car
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The next generation Very Light Car
The latest VLC boasts larger wheels than its X-Prize winning predecessor
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The latest VLC boasts larger wheels than its X-Prize winning predecessor
New VLC rolling-chassis prior to the unveiling at The Henry Ford Museum
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New VLC rolling-chassis prior to the unveiling at The Henry Ford Museum
In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
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In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
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In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
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In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
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In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
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In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
New VLC rolling-chassis
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New VLC rolling-chassis
New VLC rolling-chassis
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New VLC rolling-chassis
New VLC rolling-chassis
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New VLC rolling-chassis
Oliver Kuttner presents the new VLC architecture
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Oliver Kuttner presents the new VLC architecture
New VLC rolling-chassis on display at The Henry Ford Museum
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New VLC rolling-chassis on display at The Henry Ford Museum
New VLC rolling-chassis on display at The Henry Ford Museum
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New VLC rolling-chassis on display at The Henry Ford Museum
The next generation Very Light Car
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The next generation Very Light Car
The next generation Very Light Car
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The next generation Very Light Car
The next generation Very Light Car
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The next generation Very Light Car
The X-PRIZE-winning Very Light Car #98 on display at The Henry Ford
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The X-PRIZE-winning Very Light Car #98 on display at The Henry Ford
The Automotive X-PRIZE-winning Very Light Car #98 at the Finals stage (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag)
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The Automotive X-PRIZE-winning Very Light Car #98 at the Finals stage (Photo: Noel McKeegan/Gizmag)
The next generation Very Light Car
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The next generation Very Light Car
New vs Old – the evolution of the VLC
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New vs Old – the evolution of the VLC
View gallery - 22 images

The team at Edison2 has not been idle since winning the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize with its Very Light Car (VLC) back in 2010. An electric version of the VLC was unveiled in 2011 and this month saw the new architecture that will form the basis of the company's consumer prototype unveiled at the The Henry Ford museum.

While exterior renderings of the new version definitely look more like a vehicle of the future, the same principles that underlined the purpose built, X-Prize winning original are still at the fore – extremely light weight and optimal aerodynamic efficiency.

New vs Old – the evolution of the VLC
New vs Old – the evolution of the VLC

The VLC X Prize design weighs just 830 lbs (376 kg) and boasts the lowest drag coefficient ever recorded at the GM Aero Lab for a four passenger car at 0.160. According to Edison2, the next generation VLC trumps its predecessor in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, with the gains helping offset some of the additions required for a consumer friendly version, such as rear vision mirrors.

The new VLC also sports improved driver visibility, a roomier interior with easier entry and egress, a chassis made from aluminum sheet metal (as opposed to tubular steel) and larger wheels that result in more travel for the in-wheel suspension set-up.

In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture
In-wheel suspension forms a key part of the VLC architecture

This in-wheel suspension, which is clearly visible in the VLC rolling chassis now on display at The Henry Ford, is one of the key components of the design. As well as improving aerodynamics, it improves handling, reduces mass and the complexity of the vehicle as a whole.

“We believe we can replace the twist beam suspension, even in existing cars … but it will take time,” says Edison2's Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Oliver Kuttner.

No specific time frame has been given for the roll-out of the VLC consumer model, but the company believes its architecture "has a promising future in domestic and international markets" that includes "applications in suspension and vehicle segments far beyond Edison2's current designs."

“This car opens up the possibility for a whole new type of car…in a much more responsible, sustainable way to the future,” adds Kuttner.

The new VLC rolling architecture is currently on display at The Henry Ford alongside the X Prize VLC.

This is one project we'll be watching closely as it evolves – stay tuned for updates.

Source: Edison2.

View gallery - 22 images
23 comments
Daishi
This looks like something I might actually drive. More practical and less sporty than Ariel Atom and X-Bow but not a conventional automobile. I think if I owned one the hypermiler wheel covers would get replaced with covers closer to what is on the atom though.
BigGoofyGuy
I think the newer one is a lot nicer than the older one. I would not mind driving the newer one. It has - IMO - a very futuristic look to it. I think the name should be Hammerhead. From above, it has a look of a hammerhead shark (at least the front end does).
pickypilot
Although, I'm not ready to give up the big highway cruiser just yet, I'd go for something like that for local trips to the store. Can you imagine getting T-Boned by an Escalade? As an afterthought, a couple of those Protean in wheel drive motors in the back would make a great type class. "Gentlemen, push your buttons"
Jerry Peavy
This looks like the Aptera four wheel design with parts of the three wheel design tacked on and the drag coefficient of 0.160 is not as low as the Aptera which is 0.150. The Aptera also makes extensive use of aluminum in the chassis. It would be interesting to see if the weight and mileage approach the Aptera, not to mention the durability of the shell, which on the Aptera is able to withstand repeated blows from a small sledge hammer!
Neil Larkins
Am I missing something here? Here we have another new and improved Edison 2 (or VLC or whatever) 3 years after the X-prize was awarded. Correct me if I'm wrong - and I usually am - but my understanding of this competition was to enable the winning design to be brought to PRODUCTION at a reasonable price to the general motoring public. A manufacturing and marketing plan was to be submitted along with the vehicle. So where is that car? Where can we purchase it and if it's not yet available, at what stage is the actual production? When is the rollout and how much is the price? What will be the annual operating cost? Inquiring minds - or at least mine - want to know. Better we should pay attention to someone who wanted to enter the contest but dropped out because he couldn't get his car done in time: Jack MacCornack. He has since completed and thoroughly roadtested the MAX, a car designed to achieve 100 mpg (which it does) and made with with mostly off-the-shelf parts so any d.i.y-er can duplicate his efforts for under $10,000. Check out http://www.kineticvehicles.com/MAX/html for FREE info and plans (and no, I am not connected with Jack or Kinetic in any way...just a guy who wants to see lots of high-mileage vehicles on the road and thinks the X-prize folks should ask for their money back).
Don Duncan
Oliver Kuttner is a rare visionary in this field, like Steve Fambro (Aptera). He has given me hope that I might see the kind of car I have wanted for 40 years: an efficient, sexy, safe, coupe with a reasonable price. I would take it with an ICE, and replace that with an electric motor when batteries are practical. I'll buy whichever in available first: Aptera, or Edison2 VLC.
Nicolas Zart
Yup glimpse of Metropolitan future almost zero emission driving. I like it. Lotus all over again!
Micheal Donnellan
all fine until the insurace companies say no, and thats the end of it.
Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret
Say no to heavy, bulky, mass children/people killing machines on the road (a bit of a hyperbole). Lighter vehicles is truly the future way to go in every aspect.
Adrian Akau
I think that foam steel should be incorporated into the structure for safety purposes in the event of an accident. External air bags which could be deployed electronically in an unavoidable collision should also be considered. The new technology should gradually be incorporated into present cars to make them both lighter and more aerodynamic but it will take time. My 2003 Echo does 50 mpg (country 90%, city 10%) with only aerodynamic changes such as frontal edge, partial front undercarriage cover, base of windshield cover, fuel fins on top, sides and back trunk, full plastic wheel covers on the back wheels and partials on the front and with holes drilled in the back bumper to ease up the suction at speeds above 45mph.