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.
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.
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.