When Danny Kim founded his car company in 2010, he was confident that at even 30-year-olds, he could take on the big automakers. “The Google generation has access to all this knowledge so it’s incredibly easy for these innovative minds to hybridize ideas.” When we interviewed him in 2011, he called San Francisco the next electric Detroit and showed us his cardboard mockup for his C-1: the two-wheeled car/motorcycle hybrid that couldn’t fall over, thanks to gyroscopes.
We returned two years later (in August of 2013) just as Kim was offering a test drive to a potential investor inside the Lit Motors offices in San Francisco’s SoMA district. A few months later, with nearly 3/4s of their planned production run for 2014 already sold (but no road-ready prototype), the company received a patent for their gyroscopically-controlled stabilization system.
The concept of a gyrocar isn’t new (the first was manufactured in 1914 for a Russian count), but Kim wants to create a “rolling iPhone” where the user experience feels like an extension of your smartphone. The final product should reach top speeds of 100 mph, with a range of 220 miles per charge. During our visit last August the prototype had just one sensor, but he expects the final gyrocar to have around 32. “It’s really a robot,” he explains.