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Altair ProductDesign to support development of the New Edison2 Very Light Car

Altair ProductDesign is partnering with Edison2 to assist in the design of the new Very Light Car 4.0 (VLC 4.0), the next generation version of the innovative, light-weight, fuel-efficient vehicle entered in the Progressive Automotive XPRIZE in 2010. The original Edison2 vehicle, operating with a one-cylinder internal combustion engine, won the $5 million prize for the Mainstream Class. (Earlier post.)

Light-weighting becomes a virtuous cycle, Edison2 notes, with a lighter chassis needing a smaller drive train, a lighter suspension and so on. The VLC 4.0 is an all-new vehicle that will achieve high fuel economy results by retaining the same attributes of ultra-light weight and extremely low aerodynamic drag in a four-passenger vehicle.

The XPRIZE-winning Edison2 (left) and a rendering of the next-gen VLC (right). Click to enlarge.

Edison2 says that its envisioned new shape of the next generation VLC is an aerodynamic improvement over the angular XPRIZE design. Preliminary testing at the Virginia Tech Wind Tunnel showed that the smoother curves of the new design can help offset the drag associated with requirements such as bumpers and mirrors. The new shape also improves driver visibility, according to the company.

Larger wheels allow more in-wheel suspension travel, improving ride quality. The interior will have simple but sophisticated fit-and-finish and a lower doorsill. With an eye towards eventual production, the chassis is now aluminum sheet metal instead of tubular steel.

During the program, Altair ProductDesign will conduct a three-phase engineering study targeting suspension sensitivity, vehicle impact strategy and structural optimization.

To facilitate the vehicle’s development, Altair will provide computer-aided engineering optimization and crash-safety engineers, multi-body dynamics engineers, subject-matter experts and senior technical specialists. They will assist the Edison2 team in executing each of the study’s three phases and accelerating the development of the prototype for the VLC 4.0.

Our engineers will focus on using optimization in the beginning of the design process to anticipate structural loading requirements with a minimum mass structure. We will be identifying the critical load paths in the design space, brainstorming concept design solutions and using detailed optimization to refine those solutions for a minimum mass footprint.

—Mike Heskitt, Chief Operating Officer of Altair ProductDesign

Other aspects of Altair’s work with the Edison2 team will analyze ride and handling, steering sensitivity and noise-vibration-harshness (NVH).

Altair’s HyperWorks simulation suite will be used to validate Edison2’s novel suspension concept for the type of performance expected on a passenger car. Multiple attributes will be optimized for the tradeoffs typically encountered in suspension design.

—Mike Heskitt

In the XPRIZE competition, the Edison2 VLC set numerous records, including 110 mpg for the Mainstream Class vehicle, the lowest drag coefficient ever recorded at the GM Aero Lab for a multi-passenger car (0.16) and the competition’s lowest greenhouse gases emissions at 82.6 g of carbon dioxide.

The engine was a 250cc, 1 cylinder turbocharged DOHC unit that delivered maximum power of 40 hp (30 kW) and maximum torque of 29 lb-ft (39 N·m). The rear-wheel drive car used a six-speed manual transmission.

Since the XPRIZE, Edison2 has also created an electric VLC. Needing only a 10.5 kWh battery pack to achieve a 100-mile (161 km) range, the eVLC recorded 245 MPGe (EPA combined), compared to 99 MPGe of the Nissan Leaf. The battery pack fully recharges in less than 7 hours, using regular household 110V outlet.


Needing only a 10.5 kWh battery pack to achieve a 100-mile (161 km) range.... The battery pack fully recharges in less than 7 hours, using regular household 110V outlet.
That's very impressive, and might be something that could get sales even without subsidies.

I do wonder if that's the "sweet spot", though.  A PHEV version with a 10 kW engine and a 3-4 kWh battery might be cheaper yet and still achieve 70% of the fuel savings of the electric version (which itself achieves 70-80% over the average ICEV).  The sweet spot will move over time, but we need to think about what makes the biggest difference in the lifespan of the vehicles rolling off the line now.


a 5kW genset might do it also, single piston. Should be enough demand to sell a few thousands.


The Aptera project failed, why would this one works, it is a similar approach. I don't think an ultra-light car concept has any chance of success, but a narrow ultra-light tilting vehicle like could be successful


"The Aptera project failed, why would this one works, it is a similar approach. "

Go to their website, look @ the team members. It is a who's who the winning-est racers and they got the challenge from a viewpoint others didn't. The question begs, can they take that competitive spirit and energy and apply it towards a production intent vehicle given the proper Capital. IMHO the Very Light Car w/ very low drag as noted in their papers makes a compelling arguement against carrying around a very heavy battery for a hybrid drivetrain.



I have seen the Aptera in real and it was a fairly good product but unsellable in the current market environment the same apply to this project, same causes produce the same effect, not a chance in a snowball that this product ca be sold


I agree with all the above in some respects.

This is to develope concepts.

That is good

But -

do we need to determine of reduced weight reduces fuel consumption?

If a "money is of no concern" approach can reduce fuel consumption?

If a well designed 3 wheeler will sell?

Just what is it we do we not already know?


IIUC, Aptera failed because the team undertook a redesign to a 4-wheel planform very late in the game, and that also required compliance with NTSB crash-safety test specs that the 3-wheel original avoided.  That's why they ran out of money.

It was really cute, and I wish I could have had one.


I think this concept can be a real winner. What happens is that the large auto companies will copy the concept when it starts to get popular. Which is good. I am involved with a volunteer renewable energy organiztion that promotes RE. We would love to have a model to show people at our energy fairs. The concept of an ultra efficient car is a necessary one for the future of travel within a lower climate impact scenario. Carrying four people at over 100 mpg allows the nation to switch over to 100% renewable energy in a much easier fashion.


Of course large auto companies would copy the concept if it started to get popular. It won't.

Such unrealistic concepts date (almost unchanged) from the 1950s.

Cars will likely fly first. And then pigs.

Is the world wide surge in SUV popularity just the last gasp before we embrace little capsule cars?

We wish.


Governments could invest part of the the risk $$$ (no hand outs) into similar projects to get them going and come up with lower cost 100+ mpg, under 60 g/Km Co2 cars within 4 to 5 years. The 97% would eventual get all their $$$ back + 300+%.


Why do you think that if the;
"Governments . . invest . . $$$ into similar projects to get them going"

that they would

"come up with lower cost 100+ mpg, under 60 g/Km Co2 cars within 4 to 5 years"?

This is exactly the same brainless process politicians now have;
"pour other peoples money on it and miracles will happen".


I liked the aptera and these vehicles and would buy one for the right price. Typically the costs to get manufacturing up and running is where these small companies typically fail. So in fact if you thought the product was good and would sell, spending some dollars on manufacturing is not a bad risk. Although, the american people and our leaders and just about everyone else are really frightened about the future. Risk is bad to them. Never mind that our actual problems have nothing to do with some relatively small insignificant vehicle support projects.

On another note, the Volt has sold about 26,000 units. They will become profitable (and really profitable) once they sell 75,000 units, so only 49,000 to go.

Tesla needs to sell 7,000 model S to become profitable.

We are getting close to the point where all the arguments against electrification fade away. Once companies are profitable with the product, you cannot stop it. Oil won't die that easy, but it will die, because it's old and dirty and running out.


TT....instead of giving $$$$$B in hand outs, grants, tax credits etc etc (like Oilcos get every year) why not invest on a business like level with industry and probably get all +++ public $$$B pack like risk capital funds do?

Stop all current giveaways to private enterprise (over $1T/year) and invest equivalent government $1T/year with potential profits instead. The 97% would quickly be far ahead.

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