Car Of The Future Is Here: A New Energy-Efficient Class (Video)

An Idea Is Born

Danny Kim grew up outside Portland, Ore. and dropped out of college. He was welding beneath a 500 lb. chassis when one of the stands failed, nearly crushing him. This near-death experience led Kim to reflect on why he was building such a large vehicle when most people drive alone. He reached his “a-ha moment,” cut the car in half and balanced it to make the best vehicle for getting around the city. Thus the C-1 (working name) was born.


He went back to school to earn a degree in Industrial Design and Sustainable Transportation while working with teams of engineers from Olin, Brown, and MIT. Then Kim relocated to San Francisco, Calif. and founded Lit Motors in February 2010.

The C-1 is fully enclosed and self-balancing. It protects the driver and passenger from the elements and provides car-like safety with an intuitive, car-like interface. Lit Motors is accepting pre-orders at this time.

Energy-Saving Aspects

  • The C-1 is considered a motorcycle, allowing the driver to split lanes and easily slip through traffic, cutting up to 50% off commute times.
  • It is 100% electric with a top speed of 100+ mph and range up to 200 miles per charge.
  • It uses high torque in-hub motors to accelerate from 0-60 mph in about six seconds.
  • Charge times depend on voltage: from six hours on 110/120V to four hours on 220/240V to less than a half hour (to 80%) at a 400-500V quick charge station.

Frequently Asked Questions

 How does it stay upright?  The C-1 is self-balancing using two gyroscopes to keep the vehicle upright when stopped. It has “landing gear” which deploys to keep the vehicle upright. The gyros are fully controlled by the vehicle so it leans into and out of turns while maintaining stability at all times. And it has a reverse gear!

What kind of drivetrain are you using? Is the C-1 electric?  Yep! The C-1 is fully electric using high torque, direct drive, in-hub motors giving it a smaller simpler body and quick efficient driving.

What can you tell me about the battery? Lit Motors uses lithium iron phosphate batteries. Because of the C-1’s small size, it only needs an 8 kWh battery pack, which is supplemented with our patented KERS regen braking system, giving another virtual kWh. Charge times are 4-6 hours, depending on charging voltage. The C-1 can use higher voltage quick charge stations, giving an 80% charge in less than a half hour. As with all EVs the battery pack eventually needs to be replaced. However since it is 1/4 – 1/10 the size of a typical EV battery pack, the replacement cost will be considerably more affordable.

What are the safety features of the C-1?  It has a steel unibody chassis with reinforced doors, seat belts and multiple airbags. The gyro stability system keeps the C-1 upright even in a collision, preventing the vehicle from flipping or rolling. All critical systems are double- or triple-redundant with mechanical backups to allow the driver to steer and stop the car even in a catastrophic failure of all systems.

Is the C-1 road legal? What kind of license do I need to drive it?  The C-1 is 100% street legal. A motorcycle license will be required – but you can take that test in the C-1. Lit Motors is working to have the C-1 recognized as a separate class of vehicle.

How much cargo does the C-1 fit? Can it carry a passenger? It has enough space for an adult and an adult passenger plus a small bag (about the same amount of cargo you can carry on a plane, i.e. roller bag, briefcase, a few bags of groceries). It accommodates drivers from 5’ to 6’3”—however Lit Motors has had people up to 6’5” fit comfortably in their prototypes. The C-1 was not designed for a specific weight limit; the motors are quite powerful, so weight should not be an issue. Dimensions are: 800 lbs. (360 kg) curb weight, 112″ (2.8 m) long, 55″ (1.4 m) tall, 40″ (1 m) wide.

What options/features will be available for the C-1? It will have climate control (heat+A/C), fully operable windows, a moon roof/convertible option, direct drive in-hub motors, center-hub steering, full cloud/smartphone integration, premiere sound system.

Can the C-1 handle inclement weather/off-road? Because the C-1 is all-wheel drive and has Lit Motors’ gyro stability system, it handles as well as or better than any other all-wheel drive car in inclement weather. Lit Motors has an off-road version in the works.

How much will the C-1 cost? The C-1 will cost approximately $24,000 USD without tax incentives. With current tax incentives this could be as low as $19,000 for Calif. drivers. Lit Motors will have a dealership and service network across North America and the world. Lit Motors is accepting pre-orders. About 1/3 of their pre-orders thus far are from outside the US.


Gloria Christie

I founded Gloria Christie Reports, a common sense column about liberal politics. I have written for, the Kansas City Star, Where High Technology Meets Politics for London’s IDG-Connect Blog and The Best Times. My total readership is over 5 million. I have an MS in radio-TV-film and an MPA in business/government relations. I am a systemic problems consulting expert for Fortune 100/500 businesses here and off-shore. I invented and implemented the first computerized patient chart.

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