Edison2 VLC 4.0 hybrid wants to redefine the auto industry

In 2010, Lynchburg-based Edison2 won the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize with its Very Light Car (VLC) concept.

The four-passenger vehicle weighed in at an outstanding 830 pounds due to the judicious use of aluminum and steel. Power came from a 1-cylinder turbo-charged gasoline engine generating 40 horsepower and 29 lb.-ft. of torque. While not impressive numbers, it could still chug up to 60 mph under 15 seconds from a dead stop.

More impressive, though, was its fuel economy and range: the VLC, according to the Progressive X judges, achieved 129 miles-per-gallon-equivalent, or mpge, in highway driving and 110 mpge in combined city and highway tests. Range was determined to be 600 miles. In 2011, the company again astounded the “mega-miles” world with its electric VLC (eVLC) and its fuel efficacy of 352 mpge city, 347 mpge highway, and 350 mpge combined. The eVLC also has a range of 110 miles, beating most pure electric vehicles on sale today.

Image courtesy of Edison2

Edison2 provided an update on VLC’s progress in a press conference earlier this month. States Oliver Kuttner, founder and CEO, “The auto industry has been refining the same architecture for more than 50 years, and Edison2 has created a new path – a new way of building a car that has many environmental and economic benefits. Much of this relies on Edison2’s in-wheel suspension which can be seen on the VLC prototype.”

At the conference, the company revealed images of what it dubs the “VLC 4.0″ and rolled out a chassis prototype. Kuttner focused primarily on the the prototype’s in-wheel suspension and its numerous advantages – less complexity, mass, and parts – versus today’s designs.

“This car,” he said, “opens up the possibility for a whole new type of car…in a much more responsible, sustainable way to the future.” He also discussed how the VLC focused on meeting consumer needs, including interior space to just how easy it was to enter and exist the vehicle. He claims that the VLC and its technology “disrupt” today’s automotive industry and even national economic trends.

* Joel Arellano, EarthTechling