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Next-generation Very Light Car architecture takes center stage


April 19, 2013

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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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.

Source: Edison2.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted Gizmag.com in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007. All articles by Noel McKeegan

This is a sporty golf cart with big wheels and a roll cage. Make it more comfortable for older people and they may buy it. I live in a very small town in south Texas, but very big trucks drive through in convoys. If this car has good acceleration to get across the highway, and excellent air conditioning for the 100 degree F days, I could take it to work.


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.


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).


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"


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!

Jerry Peavy

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).

Neil Larkins

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.

Don Duncan

Yup glimpse of Metropolitan future almost zero emission driving. I like it. Lotus all over again!

Nicolas Zart

all fine until the insurace companies say no, and thats the end of it.

Micheal Donnellan

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.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

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.

Adrian Akau

Raise the passenger compartment father from the ground, lower the lip at the bottom of the door, and do not put a electric drive system in it and I could see myself driving it.


I find the in wheel suspension particularly interesting. I'd like to see that out there, particularly in an electric design.

Bruce Sherman

we should all be embracing this technology,and reading some of the comments people need to educate themselves on just how difficult it is to get a car into production,let alone one that is light years ahead of the rest.Safety ? look at F1 racing and driver's surviving 200 mph crashes,we can make light weight vehicles very strong,so getting T-Boned by an Escalade should not be a problem.The major manufactures don't want to break out of the box,their content making minor changes year after year,complaining how they can't meet CAFE's fuel requirements.I think they need to spend some of their record profits on the Edison 2 and the technology used.We should have more than 30-40 mpg cars in 2013,their are no excuses.

Thomas Lewis

Great comments! Everyone can track the latest developments at Edison2 through the following links.

http://facebook.com/verylightcar http://edison2.com http://twitter.com/verylightcar http://youtube.com/verylightcar


I need seating for one, and around 40 cubic feet of cargo space. Just a radio and heater, nothing fancy to drive the price up. I'd prefer electric or hybrid with electric only mode. All-wheel drive, about 10 inches ground clearance. Top speed 75-80 mph, Range about 100 miles, and that covers my needs. Some day my first generation Honda Insight will need to be replaced.


re; Thomas Lewis

Meeting the wrong headed CAFE standards with cars that a majority of consumers want and can afford to buy is not easy.


Too few comments for so many well-implemented great ideas in one car, but some of the critique is excellent. Hope Gizmag will make voting for-against comments possible soon.


I've been wondering when we will see more of these. They aren't much different than SXS's or ATV which probably will be legal soon enough.

Layne Nelson

I love it! This is exactly what we should have in all of our cities - impose a proper congestion charge/heavy weight vehicle charge so that any car over 500kg or using a petrol motor has to stay out and only things like this would be cruising around... just imagine how much nicer it would be! This is all the car that the majority of urban dwellers need for 90% of their trips - hire a car if you need to go interstate.

At the end of WWII people in Europe needed small cars that were easy on the pocket books. The Mesherschmidt (probably spelled wrong) had a 175cc two stroke motor. That one cylinder motor could get 98mpg and could get the small car up to 65 mph.. Our cars are fat and we have outrageously big engines. Our initial costs are off the charts for new cars and the repair and maintenance needs are enough to cripple us financially. Nothing enables new car sales better than a very poor education. People won't listen to that message at all until they are beaten down so far into the dirt that their emotions finally cause them to have good sense. We even have bloated motorcycles as the first choice among bikers. Eight hundred plus pound motorcycles are a bag joke and often lethal to riders as well. Two hundred pounds and twelve horsepower are enough to get the job done. And if we happen to make such motorcycles that repair cheaply and easily they will serve from grandparent down through grandchild without seeing the scrap yard. Jim Sadler

forget land vehicles....will soon be history

Stewart Mitchell

Now this is what I'm on about! Light weight = economy, better handling (active safety as opposed to adding scaffold bars to the doors etc), plus being able to push the thing single- handed when it ceases to proceed.

But mostly the point of 'adding lightness'... It'll go FASTER. Loose the back wheels altogether and graft on a 600cc bike engine & transmission, and name it after a poisionous animal, job done.

Also liking the idea of a grown- up bubble car with a full-size cabin for more regular use, but that will doubtless be the harder sell.

Robin Sutherland
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