As simple and as safe as a car combined with the benefits of a motorcycle is what LIT Motors promises with its C-1 electric vehicle. With a projected range of almost 200 miles, a top speed of over 100 miles per hour and anticipated pricing in the mid-20 thousands (before tax credits), the C-1 (working name) has potential to be a game-changer for transportation in urban areas.
The above video was shot at International CES, which is appropriate, as the heart, soul and brains of this vehicle of the not-too-distant future is software combined with smart hardware. It has the innards of a future autonomous car. As Ryan James, Vice President of Marketing for LIT Motors, points out, the connection between the steering mechanism and the wheel is electronic (fly-by-wire). It has safety features that exceed many cars on the road, including:
- Reinforced, uni-body steel construction
- Multiple airbags
- All-wheel drive (two-wheel)
- A gyro system, similar to what satellites use for stability, that keeps the body upright, even when hit.
In California, there are additional benefits for the driver, such as lane splitting (like motorcycles), the use of car lanes and tax credits (effectively reducing its total cost). And people are lining up to put deposits down (twenty have deposited $10k), as there are takers for 90% of their initial production run. And although there are skeptics, they have team members with impressive resumes (think NASA’s former Chief Technologist) and they are taking a path that has fewer regulatory hurdles (since it is a motorcycle, the regulations aren’t as heavy as would be for an automobile).
The real revolution, however, may be in the way this company has done so much to turn one man’s vision into reality a relatively small investment (measured in the millions) and short amount of time. A handful of people created the prototype on display at CES. They are set up more as a Web 2.0 company, than an automobile company, as evidenced by their use of crowd-funding (for their $6,000, electric cargo scooter, Kubo), use of social media and direct relationship with the end customers.
And although they still have to set up manufacturing for mass-production, their relatively small investment gives them the flexibility to try new business models (e.g. think licensing, maybe open sourcing, etc.) that allow others to manufacturer and even market their vehicle designs. The interesting thing is that a brand that would license such a vehicle might not even be from the automobile space.
And although, the obvious target for their vehicles are urban areas, given its range and price, it could have applicability for other markets, such as fleets and, with its range, even rural areas with inclement weather and long windshield times.
Stay tuned for a future article about how LIT Motor’s effort to change the transportation market could be one element of something even bigger.