@elizabethsimon, thanks for posting the link to Elio. Definitely, it looks like a good commuter car.
I think the question we all need to ask is whether the consumer demand for cars -- globally speaking -- is diversifying enough to allow those new types of vehicles that may not be coming from the Big Three in Detroit.
@Robotic Developer. Good points about "cost" and "milage numbers" about VLC.
Here's what Edison2 claims:
• An internal combustion engine powered VLC in X Prize on-track testing achieved 110 MPGe (EPA combined)
• An electric VLC recorded 245 MPGe in the EPA 5-cycle test (combined) and 350 MPGe using X Prize metrics (Roush Laboratories)
• A VLC prototype with a Smart Car driveline achieved 89 MPG (highway), compared to 41 MPG for the Smart
A bigger question, in my mind, is the cost. Unless large automotive OEMs and parts suppliers get on the bandwagon, I can only imagin that building bringing down the cost for the LVC would be an uphill battle -- to say the least.
@CommonSense1, thanks for posting the link to the Aptera article.
Yes, this is a very interesting space to watch. While I understand some people's concern about the safety and the mass appeal for such light-weight vehicles, I applaud companies like Aptera and Edison2 flipping the conventional wisdom and trying something new.
Much as I would consider something like this for a commute car, it resembles my previous obsession: the Aptera, a 3 wheeled approach with lots of promise and not enough financing. The Aptera design appears to be resurrected though: http://www.gizmag.com/aptera-independent-production-us/27868/ suggests that there is some possible future for this design.
BMW's i3 is a smallish electric in-town runabout, and BMW offers purchasers some alternatives for those other vehicle needs: you can trade your car at the dealership for a traditional gas-powered car for up to 12 days/year so you can take a driving vacation. Other EV mfgr's could make a similar offer, perhaps partner with a car rental agency or zipcar, etc. to have a flexible option for those who are concerned about a longer drive.
As to size & weight: race cars (NASCAR excepted) are generally pretty light and designed to survive high speed incidents. The Aptera designers said the met Federal crash standards for cars, so that should be less of an issue with good design up front.
One of the primary goal of electric car is being green. Make no mistake, to consume less gas or to be able to run a electric car for a longer distance, lighter weight materials have to be used. A recent IEEE article raises a concern over the electric vehicle, primarily because of the material of which they are made. To harvest some of those materials can be polluting the environment more. To carbon toll to create some of those material, e.g. carbon fiber and aluminium, could be higher. I didn't dig deeper to verify his argument. However, I am sure there are reasons that these materials haven't been a popular choice to most automakers. I certainly want to hear more from people coming from the industry.
With the knowledge from the IEEE article and all other concerns raised previous, is it really a good direction to push a ligher weight? I am sure technology will advance to a point that we can have the best of all world - rigid, light weight and environment friendly. Until that day, consumer may still prefer a more rigid car with relatively good environmental friendliness.
This type of consumer is not looking for the above type of car. This consumer can afford almost any vehicle. To have them purchase something that is less powerful, with less amenities compared to what they are used to will take some convincing. They are going to make this purchase to make a statement.
You are absolutely right about that. Edison2's CEO Kuttner himself acknowledged it. When he was asked about the "mass appeal" of VLC and what sort of market research he needs to do in order to attract the mass consumers, he said: "No, I don't need to do any market research. If I drive this car in San Francisco, my phone would keep ringing. Just like those who buy Prius want to make a statement, people will buy VLC in order to make a statement."
Whether you view that as his arrogance or his lack of understanding the mass market is up to you.
@bodyshop911....I'd partly disagree there, safety HAS to be A big issue if not THE big issue. Something will always go wrong, especially with something so complex as a self-driving car. If that happens, protection for the passengers should be a huge consideration - crumple zones, air bags, etc.
I'd agree about the need to use aviation-like standards, but then look at air and train travel. All inherently very safe, yet accidents do happen, and not always caused by human error. Watch "Air Crash Investigations".....
I would agree with you that we are far too complacent about vehicle safety, but I think we're a long way from the point where I would trust myself to a computer to get me from A to B. And that's not arrogance...., I'm not always happy with my own ability to do that, either...there's been times when I would love to have someone else drive for me, fortunately few and usually involving extra coffee to keep the sensors funtioning....
Interesting times ahead in this area (as the old chinese curse goes :-)
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.