The Very Light Car is a product from Edison2, the company that won the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize for mainstream vehicles back in 2010. It has decided to show off the next-generation prototype made from the $5 million it obtained from winning the X-Prize. The Very Light Car is a prototype that combines space-aged production techniques, light-weight materials and a small gasoline engine that functions as a range extender. The predominant thought when designing this vehicle was overall price, and based on the components used in the prototype, the vehicle should come in at approximately $20,000.
The vehicle earns its lightweight name from having a chassis that weighs 67 pounds made entirely out of aluminum. Carbon fiber was ruled out due to the still expensive production costs. To aid in fuel economy, the vehicle’s drag coefficient is an incredibly slippery 0.160. The vehicle also utilizes a unique suspension setup that locates all of the suspension geometry inside the wheel itself. This setup allows for the air to flow as smoothly as possible through the vehicle and out the rear.
The current wire-frame structure of the prototype is not road-legal, due to the lack of the crash structure in place, but Edison2 claims that the vehicle will not gain much weight or wind resistance after adding the structure. That means, combined with the 10.5 kWh lithium-ion battery and the 90 hp electric motor, the Very Light Car should be good for a range of 114 miles. Under current testing standards, that equates to 350 mpg-e.
The Very Light Car is interesting in that it utilizes a lot of engineering design changes to make the vehicle more aerodynamic. Even if the Very Light Car does not become successful, licensing the technology is definitely a possibility for them, especially with the unique suspension design. Though the engineering is proprietary, all of the parts to build the vehicle are available for catalog order today. Off-the-shelf parts will help keep the vehicle price down, and if the total cost of the Very Light Car falls into the $20,000 estimate when it comes to market then Edison2 will likely have a hit on their hands.