Danny Kim has started his own car company, though, except for the old Land Rover he converted to run on biodiesel, his “cars” all have two wheels.
He’s patented a couple of electric cargo scooters, one of which folds up entirely to fit in elevators, pickup trucks… your apartment.
Not a car, not a motorcycle: a cyclecar
But the vehicle that could put Lit Motors on the map is his C1. Part motorcycle, part car, he calls it a cyclecar. “We basically just cut the car in half.”
It’s two-wheeled and tilts and leans like a motorcycle, but it’s fully enclosed and steers like a car. And best of all, thanks to gyroscopes, it doesn’t fall down.
“The gyroscopes make it almost impossible to knock over,” says Kim. “The gyroscopes we’ll be putting around 1,300-foot pounds of torque at its full operational speed which basically you’d need a baby elephant to knock over.”
An EV design house
The Lit Motors design house in San Franciso’s SOMA is layered with his designs. On level 1, Kim parks his biodiesel Land Rover that took him 7000 hours to complete. He worked alone and within a year and a half, he had doubled the fuel efficiency from 15 to 31 mpg (and it’s a 2.5 ton, all-time 4WD truck).
This project was a product of geography. “I grew up in Portland, Oregon. The DIY movement was huge there, SUV craze was at its height. All of my friends were making their own bicycles and bags, I just decided to DIY my own car.”
An EV mashup
On level 2, Kim stores all the old mopeds he tore apart to make his foldable cargo scooter prototype. His “Frankenstein’s monster of scooters” was a mashup of his old Vespa, an electric scooter found on Craigslist, and a few others.
The final design set him back just $5,000, something that would cost “most companies like 100 or 500 thousand dollars”.
A rolling iPhone
Ride the old cargo elevator all the way to the 3rd floor (Kim jumped on with his foldable scooter) and you catch a glimpse of what a future where cars have become pods.
Kim calls his C1 cyclecar “a rolling iPhone”. It’s not just the hardware he’s been able to share with other electric devices, but the software that he sees as changing our driving future.
“It’s going to be wired, it’s going to be connected to your peers, basically the way I see this it’s kind of like a Facebook app so each vehicle is going to have their own basic status that’s going to be communicating with other vehicles over like 4G.”