Prize-winning Edison2 reveals its sci-fi-looking, 100-mpg car

Consumer Reports News: April 12, 2013 06:08 PM

Edison2-VLC-4-suspension.jpgThe race isn't over for the company that won the Automotive X Prize to develop a fully functional car that gets more than 100 mpg. Edison2, the winning team, unveiled its latest development, the VLC 4.0 today in Michigan.

Looking much more like the underpinnings of a potential road-worthy car than the experimental vehicles we saw competing in the Automotive X Prize in 2010, version 4.0 uses full-sized tires and wheels, in place of the scooter-scale versions in the competition cars. It also sits much higher off the ground and has lower sills to make access much easier. (It could hardly get more difficult to enter than the competition cars!)

To learn more about electric cars, visit our alternative-fuel car guide.

This Very Light Car is powered by an electric motor in the rear. The key to the car's efficiency is low weight, which Edison2 CEO Oliver Kuttner says is enabled by the car's unique in-wheel suspension technology and body construction. The clever suspension uses much smaller components than conventional suspension, which helps save weight.

The rolling chassis was unveiled without a body, but a sci-fi-looking skin, which some said looks like a duck, was shown in a concept drawing. Without a body or production plans revealed, it can be hard to know what to make of the Edison2. However, the location of the unveiling, at the Henry Ford Museum in Ford Motor Company's hometown of Dearborn, may help understanding its purpose. Rather than developing the car for production, Edison2 seems to be prodding traditional automakers to pick up some of the company's fuel-saving technology - especially that suspension. (Which is something we had commented on during the X Prize testing.)

One thing is clear: When it comes to building 100 mpg cars, that goal has already been accomplished. The all-electric Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV already surpass that hurdle in mpg-equivalent ratings. To go further will take innovation, sacrifice, and/or a giant battery.

With the VLC 4.0, Edison2 seeks to further refine a potential break-through idea. But, would this ever be a car the public would buy?

Eric Evarts

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