More Drive Tests! – September 2014 Newsletter

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  • Jacek

    Looks like you are using a bucket seats from a race car. Please consider that this vehicle is leaning. Which means the position of the driver (rider?) head will not be static. The headrest should be somewhat designed differently than it is in a bucket seat of the sports car. Sorry, probably you have enough projects as it is :)

    • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

      The current seat is not meant to be even remotely indicative of the production model; this is simply a prototype. However, given the lean of the vehicle, the driver’s position actually will be quite static—much more so than a car. As the vehicle goes around turns, the forces will push the driver into the seat, not to the side. The forces will be more similar to a motorcycle than a car.

      -Ryan

      • Jacek

        Ryan, I am a rider for years. From my humble expirience I understand tha this is the case, but in order to keep oriented I preffer to keep my head (not the body) leveled with horizont. This is natural behavior. Just take a look at the picture posted that lady keeps the eyes on the horizon. That is why she tilt her head.

        • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

          Ah, yes, now I see what you mean. And yes, I think you are likely correct. We’re making a custom seat regardless, and head position (both mobility and safety concerns) is definitely something we’re considering.

          -Ryan

          • Jacek

            And if I can one more item – backup camera. I cannot imagine myself how to back it without one. But this is most likely obvious from the first ride.

          • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

            No promises yet, but that one’s very likely. Those cameras are cheap now, and so useful.

            -Ryan

  • dzenav

    Is the delivery of the first C-1 still on schedule for Q4? If so will it be hand built or on an assembly line?

    • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

      We’ll have more to announce about production timelines in the coming weeks.

      -Ryan

      • Steven Rounds

        Ryan, we aren’t getting enough info out of you. OBVIOUSLY, since you haven’t set up an assembly line yet, there is no way for you to meet your originally-promised “end of 2014″ start-of-deliveries date. Since you are taking hard cash from your pre-order buyers, you need to be a little more specific, especially as to what appears to be very slow progress.

        • Bill Lloyd

          Steven, they announced in their last newsletter that production is being delayed. Here is and excerpt from that letter:
          “As you can tell, our vehicle still needs quite a bit more work before it will be ready for production. We will be optimizing a production line and finalizing our gyro system throughout 2015. We are not happy to have to push back production and we are sorry for the delay. But we are
          committed to creating a quality and safe vehicle that we can be proud of and that you will love.”

          I have a reserved C1 also, and am waiting other answers. What is the warranty and how do plan to accomplish warranty-covered work? What is the status – by state – for the motorcycle vs. auto classification? (They said they were working that issue.) What specific type of charging station is required for battery charging? How is delivery going to occur for a C1 built in California and delivered to Alabama going to happen? I am holding onto my 2000 Honda Insight, and at 65 mpg, I am happy, but I am looking forward to going all electric (wife’s car is a Nissan Leaf).

          • Steven Rounds

            Thanks for the info, Bill. I’m excited about what’s in the future, because of a Dan Kim statement (roughly paraphrased from memory)…”Whereas our current prototypes have a Scandinavian design esthetic, Prototype #8 has a more Italian design influence). Still though, progress seems slow, at least as shown to us in the newsletters and blog. “We will be optimizing a production line and finalizing our gyro system throughout 2015″ SEEMS to indicate 2016 deliveries…I think that someone needs to be a little more realistic about delivery details. I have a national best-in-show custom car, and want to create the same type of quality show vehicle from a Lit C-1. I’ll have to sell my current show car to pay for the C-1 and mods, and don’t want to be stuck without anything to compete with in the show-car circuit, while tapping my fingers and staring at a clock, waiting for delivery.

          • ChrisB

            I don’t think we’ll see these on the road until 2017 or later. It will likely be 2016 before they have an operational production line and that assumes they finish prototype testing next summer 2015 (because it’s difficult to iron-out volume assembly problems until you know exactly what you’ll be volume assembling…….).

            I also worry about some words in the most recent info email “Additionally, as we get closer to purchasing AEV parts in volume, we will ask you to increase the deposit for
            your AEV to secure parts for your vehicle – this will also maintain your
            reservation number.” So that means LIT is about to break another of the promises it made to us when we paid our deposits?

            I think Lit’s main problem is it’s way under-capitalized which is surprising given the current investor interest in EV startups. That probably stems from ownership and control issues which in my experience can be a big obstacle to success in tech startups.

  • http://www.pablitogreco.com/ Pablito Greco

    I will love to reserve it, but I’m waiting to see the new design.

  • ka1oxd

    ARe you adding wheels to the back where the stands come out to part it or is that just training wheels for the test model?

    • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

      Just training wheels for our prototype. They will be replaced by “landing gear” which will keep the vehicle upright when parked.

      -Ryan

      • Jacek

        Will be interesting to see how will you get around the problem with hot sticking asphalt. In some places they have just tar mixed with sand. When that gets hot is like a glue. Car tire rolls out, but those legs fom video will just sink in. Motorcycle has benefit that it’s rider inspects the ground before putting kickstand down. In this case you’re not seeing what ground the landing gear goes in.

        • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

          Well, the ends of the landing gear will likely not be pointed. We’ll use pads or other solutions to ensure that the landing gear can work well even on sub-optimal ground.

          -Ryan

  • http://games.mail.ru/profile/mail/kentanton/ Антонио Бандерас

    Ryan, lay out at least a short video of your prototype, or more pictures, I do not sleep at night, I dream about it.

  • CleanAndSimple

    Hi Ryan, I’m reserved at the $5000 level and I have a few questions. I’m getting a little anxious because I am waiting for this vehicle, but really need a 2nd vehicle for the family to augment what I have now (a Tesla). Our current 2nd care is at the end of the line.

    1) what speeds are you testing at currently? The only videos I have seen are extremely low speeds — well below the advertised 100mph. This is very important to me as I plan on driving on 280 and I-5 with the C1.

    2) Are you planning custom embedded electronics a la Tesla or are you going to pull something “off the shelf”?

    3) How are you handling battery temperature optimization? Tesla did a ton of work on this and it was not easy. Are you partnering or is this much less of an issue due to the overall lower energy involved than with a Model S?

    Thanks for your time in advance.

    • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

      Thanks for your pre-order! We appreciate your support. We can’t release many details yet, but what I can tell you:

      - We’re concentrating primarily on lower speed testing right now, so we’re not exceeding about 30 mph. Beyond ~15 mph, two-wheeled vehicles mostly stabilize themselves, so the more interesting controls work right now is at lower speeds. We’ll test at higher speeds in the future, of course!

      - Yep, our electronics will all be embedded and custom. We’ve begun that process of customization with our current prototype, and it will continue up till production.

      - We can’t say much about our battery pack now, but we’ll have more to share in the future.

      Thanks again for your support!

      -Ryan

      • CleanAndSimple

        Excellent. Thanks Ryan.

        Yes, from an experience standpoint, what you are saying WRT low speed versus high speed stability challenges makes perfect sense. I suppose I wasn’t sure if the required banking and feedback to the gyros at high speeds might be limited by processing power and gyroscopic response thereby introducing an algorithmic wrinkle. While I know this is not an issue with simple robotics, a vehicle carrying a person at high speeds has to have a much lower tolerance for error.

        Yay on the electronics. Love it.

        One suggestion/request: while the current delivered and other issues may be limiters, it would be fantastic if you could offer an option for customers to use Tesla cables and chargers. Outside of potentially having access to the Supercharger network (I know, Tesla may not want to play), those of us with Tesla chargers at home would love that. You’d win a lot of high-end potential customers. Please consider — physics and engineering permitting ;-)

        • http://litmotors.com Lit Motors

          Yep, we’d love to use Superchargers as well. We’re looking into it!

          -Ryan

  • J Winius

    Will the first C-1 generation be built using metric or imperial components (nuts, bolts, screws, etc.)?

  • Njure

    Already reserved, but I wonder- “Scandinavian design” – will it handle ice covered and snowy roads? Will deliveries be US only at first and Europe (Stockholm, e.g.) later?

  • Harris

    Have you ever seen a C1 prototype to lean when turning ?
    I think this is an unsolvable problem for Lit motors project managers.

  • Sharat Kalapa

    The prototype has a chain drive while Danny talks of a hub motor.
    Has there been a change of plans?
    Can you share any details of the type of electric motor that will finally power the C-1?

    • J Winius

      As Ryan James is no longer with the company and no one has assumed his duties here, I’ll share with you some of my thoughts on the subject of motors.

      It would seem as though earlier C-1 (AEV) prototypes made use of a relatively weak hub motor in the rear wheel only. They need to end up with a more powerful hub motor in each wheel to realize their stated goals, but perhaps those motors are currently unavailable, or there are some bugs involved, so in the mean time they’ve apparently decided to move other parts of their testing program forward by temporarily using a conventional electric motor and chain.

      At least, I assume that’s the case. The idea all along has been for the finished product to use hub motors, which are part of the wheels. These do increase the unsprung mass of the wheels, which has consequences for their ability to follow bumps and isolate vibration, but strong magnets are light-weight these days and hub motors also have numerous advantages, especially in this case. For example, they increase what little free space is available within the vehicle’s chassis, they reduce the number of moving parts, motor cooling is less of a problem and they are totally silent.

      But likely the most important advantage hub motors offer is to allow for proper regenerative braking, as most of the braking is done at the front (up to 100%). I would think that without a powerful front hub motor, the range of the C-1 would be somewhat reduced, especially in city traffic.

      In light of these arguments I would consider it unlikely for the company to abandon the idea of hub motors without a struggle, but they may have run into serious problems. For instance, if they can’t make these motors themselves, or outsource their production without making the end product too expensive, they may have to compromise, at least for the first generation. It would be disappointing, but it would still be a unique vehicle and I would still be interested. And who knows: a conventional motor may even make it cheaper, better handling and more reliable.

      • Steven Rounds

        Re: “A chain drive may be cheaper, better handling and more reliable”. As a long-time motorcycle rider, all chains stretch over time. And the massive torque of an electric motor will stretch the chain even more. This will cause chain derailment/breakage (a probable cause of accidents), necessitating regular chain tightening. And chains have to be lubricated, which throws oil up onto the bike. Have you ever fixed a broken chain? It’s lots of fun to do with the mess involved. I want 2-wheel drive, but at least give us shaft drive. I wonder what Ryan knew, that we don’t?

        • J Winius

          Agree. I’d rather have dual hub-motors as well, but if they can’t make them as reliable as hoped within the $24K target, then what? As for Mr. James, he may have simply moved on to greener pastures, but who knows.

  • Bernard

    One thing that worries me about the design is how you are going to handle the transition from gyro stabilized mode (low speed) to normal wheel stabilized mode (say > 15 mph). You are going to have to slow the gyro’s down real quick and speed them up in traffic situations which will take a lot of energy. Or maybe you have energy recovery on them ? If this is the case you would need super-capacitors to handle the energy release which is adding more complication and cost.

    Bernard

    • J Winius

      Without the gyros running, the driver would have to shift his or her weight in order to tilt the vehicle into corners and that’s not the idea. Instead, the gyros are meant to tilt the vehicle as the driver turns the wheel, so they must always be running while the vehicle is in use.

      • Bernard

        I guess that explains why the gyro’s have about 10x the torque of the originals. It will be interesting to see how they react to the large gyroscopic forces from the wheels and hub motors as speeds increase. Control is going to be critical over bumps.

        • J Winius

          Under normal circumstance, those gyros won’t have any more trouble tilting the vehicle than you would when riding a motorcycle of the same weight. Beyond normal, the extra torque does become increasingly useful the more the vehicle gets out of balance. Also, remember that these gyros must double as flywheels, and the bigger they are the more energy they can store (the battery can store a lot more energy, but isn’t as good at absorbing it when the vehicle is decelerated too quickly).

  • Steven Rounds

    I just looked at the new AEV conceptual cad rendering, as done by Diego Miralles. Love the new look! The darker nose will allow me to easily hide seam lines on the graphic wrap I’m planning for mine. The “increased wheelbase” doesn’t seem to be adding much distance between the driver’s seatback and the rear passenger’s nose. Unfortunately, the concept is also showing a chain-drive, rear-only powered wheel. What happened to the hub-drive motors? What happened to the 2-wheel drive? I live in snow country.

    • J Winius

      The apparent switch to chain drive bothers me as well. Why the change of heart: low reliability, too expensive? A chain drive may fix that, but it’s also noisy and the regenerative braking will be a lot less efficient. So what about those hub motors: are they gone, or will they now be optional?

  • J Winius

    After putting the question regarding the new motor configuration directly to Lit Motors, I received an answer rather quickly from DK himself. He didn’t ask me to keep this information to myself, so I’ll share with you what he wrote:

    “The early model will have a belt/chain drive for the rear wheel and traction motor. A rear wheel hub motor system we found creates unfavorable ride characteristics for the rear suspension. The unsprung mass of a 120 lb rear wheel hub motor assembly which is 1/7th the gross vehicle weight provides a slow suspension reaction in smaller ‘bumps’ at mid to higher speeds providing poor traction reducing driver control and safety. I don’t feel this is a good option for the Lit tribe of world changers unless there is a breakthrough in reliable light high power wheel hub motors. There will be an all wheel drive package in the future which most likely will include a smaller/lighter wheel hub motor option for the front wheel/suspension.”

    You can imagine the company’s dilemma: they found they had promised a solution that was never going to work well, thus landing themselves in a mini Catch-22 situation. If they were to deliver the C-1 as promised, the owners would be disappointed with the vehicle’s handling, bad press would follow and sales would suffer. On the other hand, if they were to go back on their word by replacing the promised hub motors with a conventional drive system, it’s possible that a number of people with reservations would start asking for their money back. Or worse, maybe folks would start to lose faith in the company.

    Okay, so they’ve quietly dropped the hub motors. Am I as disappointed about it as I sounded before? Actually, not at all, because Danny’s explanation is crystal clear to me. Sure, hub motors would be nice, but not if they’re too heavy. I’d vastly prefer a vehicle that handles properly.

    Furthermore, since the C-1 will likely no longer be as silent as we had once hoped, I decided to watch a couple of Jay Leno’s Garage videos — on the Mission Motors Mission-R (chain drive) and the Harley-Davidson LiveWire (belt drive) — to remind myself of the kind of sound that we can now look forward to. And guess what? As long as it’s not too loud inside, you won’t hear me complaining if the C-1 ends up sounding anything like either one. It will probably make driving it safer too if it helps pedestrians to hear the C-1 coming. Personally, I would prefer a belt drive if it means less maintenance, but if the company decides to use an oily chain instead, I trust that they will have good reasons for doing so. A shaft drive seems less likely to me, as that would probably increase the rolling resistance, weight and cost while requiring periodic oil changes.

    Another interesting comment that Jay Leno made about his ride on the Livewire, was that its (rear wheel) regen works so well that he thinks its brake pads would last forever (15:11). I don’t know if he would say that if he got to drive it more often, but if he’s right then maybe it won’t be so bad after all to not have a hub motor on the C-1′s front wheel.

    Now that I think about it, I’m not even sure anymore if I would choose to install a front hub motor on my C-1 if I had the option, knowing that it would probably mean hanging another 20 kg or more on the end of the front suspension arms, which in turn would have a negative impact on the vehicle’s handling. I would only be interested if it would substantially improve regenerative braking.

    The important thing is that, despite this change, the most revolutionary aspects of the vehicle are still very much intact. Maybe now it won’t seem quite as revolutionary to everyone as it did before, but I’d rather the company be realistic about the design as opposed to stubbornly idealistic. I expect there will be more design changes to come, but smaller ones, mostly cosmetic in nature, and none that will cause me to ask for my money back.

  • Steven Rounds

    In regards to the need for a lightweight hub motor, check out this link:

    http://www.cafefoundation.org/v2/pdf_tech/MPG.engines/HE_HP_electric_motors_Long_20090929.pdf

    This is a NON-IRON motor made from carbon fiber or aluminum, plus copper and the magnets. It promises 5 hp per pound, meaning 100 hp hub motors weighing 20 pounds, not 120. This motor is being funded by DARPA (your tax dollars at work) for aircraft use.

  • Steven Rounds

    Here’s the LaunchPoint home page, click on “Electric Vehicles” to see their latest gen 2 version. (the pdf shows their gen 1 version). They specifically mention motorcycles…

    http://www.launchpnt.com/portfolio/transportation/electric-vehicle-propulsion/

    • J Winius

      Good job: very interesting. But, you have to wonder whether the gen 2 version of this motor will be available, affordable and meet the specifications required for the C-1 before production begins. IMO this does increase the chances that later version of the C-1 will have dual hub motors, but I doubt it for the first one.

      The priority is for Lit to produce a fully-enclosed, electric, two-wheeled, self-balancing vehicle in the not-too-distant future that is also reliable and gets good range and performance. That’s the revolutionary product we’re waiting for; the hub motors would just be icing on the cake. So, if Danny thinks that the odd of the C-1 ever making it to production will be increased significantly by using a more conventional belt or chain drive to start with, then I’m all for it — it may even handle better than later dual hub motor versions. This reminds me of Icarus: better safe than sorry.

  • J Winius

    Here’s another interesting application for a control moment gyroscope:

    http://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/engines/end-rock-and-roll

    Judging from the sound they made in recent videos, I’m beginning to suspect that the CMGs in the C-1 will not be running in a vacuum, thus limiting them to relatively low speeds, and that they will use mechanical bearings. That’s no show-stopper, but a CMG running in a vacuum using magnetic bearings makes less noise and can spin a lot faster, thus allowing it to generate the same amount of torque with less mass. However, such CMGs are, no doubt, more expensive and would probably require attaching a pump once a year to maintain the quality of the vacuum.

    Another thing about the C-1′s CMGs, I still have no idea how long it will take them to spin them up enough for the vehicle to be driven away. It will probably be nice if they could be spun up remotely, say using a smartphone app. If still attached to a charging point, that would still further increase the range of the vehicle.

  • maddoc muc

    Hi, some questions concerning your fantastic c1:

    - how does it corner (no video available?)
    - do the gyros permit it to lean into the corner?
    - USA and Europe demand a direct mechanical steering in mono track vehicles. C1 does not seem to have that. Is it designed for Asia market only?
    thanks