A revolutionary new vehicle promising to fuse the practicality of a car with the two-wheeled manoeuvrability of a motorbike will reach the UK in 2014, the creators have told Pocket-lint.
The Lit C-1 is the brainchild of Danny Kim, who says it is one of the first two-wheeled vehicles to focus on safety. While having a sculpted Momo steering wheel, pedals, airbags, seatbelts, a sunroof and all the weather protection you’d expect from a car, it is the technology inside the C-1 that makes it viable.
Located under the floor are electronically controlled gyroscopes that churn out over 1,300 lb/ft of torque and keep the vehicle balanced on two wheels at the lights and even in a collision.
In-wheel 40kw electric motors provide power and regeneration, at least one of those motors being a high-performance Remy HVH unit, coupled to a battery pack. This combination, along with the slippery body, equals a 120mph top speed, rest to 60mph in between six and eight seconds and 200 miles per charge. Charging will take around six hours on a 120V connection.
Saving the planet was certainly a motivation for Kim, but the initial idea was sparked by a Land Rover. Kim was re-engineering two Defender 90s when one of the 500lb chassis fell off its stands and almost crushed him.
While recovering and contemplating his near-death experience Kim decided that he was focusing his attention on a vehicle that was far too large and cumbersome for a city driver.
"He wondered why he was designing 'the perfect SUV', when the average person didn't need such a vehicle," explains Ryan James, chief marketing officer at California-based Lit Motors. "If the average commuter drives alone with minimal cargo, why not make a vehicle designed specifically for that? And that inspired Danny to 'cut the car in half'."
Early tests have shown that the gyroscopes certainly keep the C-1 upright, whether you select forward or reverse. But what happens if the system fails? Casually rolling on to your side in a motorised egg at the lights is going to be embarrassing at best.
"Every critical system is double or triple-redundant, with mechanical backups in case of complete electrical failure," adds James. "We're considering every possible scenario to ensure safety in all conditions."
Through the bends the gyroscopes will readjust to allow the 295kg C-1 to lean, just like a regular motorcycle. "The handling should be very quick and sporty," explains James. "It won't be exactly like anything before it - similar to a car, a motorcycle, and an aeroplane all in one. It will be quite exhilarating."
This bells and whistles range-topper will initially go into small-scale production in 2014 for $24,000 (£15,430), and if all goes well a larger production run is planned after, with a retail price of $16,000 (£10,286). The C-1 employs H2V, H2C, V2I, and V2V connectivity. Traffic, construction, and adverse weather conditions are transmitted to the vehicle, informing the driver and vehicle about the current situation and advising different routes.
Not content with being a unique special, the C-1 will provide the basis for a number of other models, the company reveals. These will include lower cost models for developing countries. James says Lit Motors has already taken pre-orders in the UK for the first production run in 2014. A dealership network still needs to be established but this will be ready for the launch.
"With regard to bringing it to Europe we don’t foresee any hurdles that we can’t overcome," says James. "The main difference will be assuring that we conform to all applicable regulations and standards, which we will. It should fit right into the strong two-wheeled culture already present in Europe. And we won't have to make a right-hand drive version."