There are a number of transportation devices under development deserving of the adjective, "revolutionary." There are also no shortage of vehicles bestowed with the "vaporware" descriptor. High on both of those lists rests the C-1 from Lit Motors – a self-balancing fully-enclosed electric motorcycle, with a steering wheel in place of handlebars. For both doubters and believers, however, there is no denying that this project is moving forward.

This involves a pair of high-speed spinners that change speed and direction in response to what's happening with the vehicle.

The latest evidence of this, besides the punctual delivery of its newsletter to email inboxes and increased staffing, is the award of a United States patent for the technology that is the beating, whirling heart of this machine: its gyroscopically-controlled stabilization system. This involves, basically, a pair of high-speed spinners that can change both the speed and direction of their individual rotations in response to what's happening with the vehicle. Whether it's slowing down, turning, being pushed against by the wind, or all of those at once.

Besides performing all that magic, the system is more efficient than other setups. The motors that turn the flywheels in the gyroscope can also act as generators, feeding electricity to capacitors when they're asked to slow down, thereby keeping the drain on energy resources down to a minimum.

Of course, just the granting of a patent doesn't mean a product will successfully make it to market. There are, though, quite a number of people whose pre-orders speak to their confidence that this one will. In fact, three-quarters of the company's planned 2014 production is already spoken for, and that's before an actual road-ready prototype has even been shown. Yes, we have seen an attractive mock-up and a rough cut example shown, but both of those were an obviously long way from the final product.

With time being as short as it is, we won't be surprised, or even disappointed, if a customer doesn't receive one before the end of next year. We can't even express, however, how anxious we are to see the production prototype in all its stabilized glory. You can read the full text of the patent here, or check out the enlightening images from it here.


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  • 23 Comments
      purrpullberra
      • 1 Year Ago
      I've seen this in action, where they have a motorcycle try to yank/pull it over. The tech is impressive. It's probably not the vehicle for me, but I could see a good market for them. I hope it comes to market.
      • 1 Year Ago
      500 mpg, 200 mile range, 120+ mph, 0-60 in 6 seconds... Take my money!!!!
      Fen
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unfortunately there is no way for me to charge a vehicle, it's slightly depressing that even this small vehicle cant be charged here. I would have to lug it up stairs and up a lift and bring it into my place. I wish they had a small petrol engine that could get up to motorway speeds. It would give them a much bigger market, and it would drive adoption of their vehicle, and some day everyone would upgrade to the hydrogen/fully electric vehicle if they can't already. (i know not a fully green vision, but a realistic one). I would hate to see them fail due to having a small target market.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fen
        I'm going to buy a Honda EU2000i to go along with it. If my math is right, one gallon of petrol will generate 5KWh with that generator. This almost gives the C-1 a full charge!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fen
        Of all the fundamentally stupid and ill thought-out suggestions, this surely takes the biscuit. What the C-1 emphatically does not need is a petrol engine. Why on earth does it need help getting up to motorway speeds. Lit already suggests it'll take less than about 7 seconds to reach 60. That's quickly enough for most people. And then it goes on to exceed 100mph. Again plenty. The vehicle doesn't need the extra weight and complexity of an additional drive train. I'm sure that much of its efficiency derives from its lightness. The target market is certainly not going to be increased by adopting such lunacy.
      danfred411
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just don't see this happening. Sure you can build it and it works but will it sell for the necessary price to pay for all that gear to keep it upright when a Twizy can balance passively. You might be able to sell a few and maintain a small market but how does that better the world.. it doesn't seem to lead anywhere we want to go.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @danfred411
        It is light, aerodynamic and electrically powered. It can park in the small amount of space and split lanes like a motorcycle. The enclosure means your clothes stay dry so this could be a great commuter vehicle for pretty much everyone. No gears and no need to put your feet down provide an easy, comfortable driving experience for people not used to motorcycles. If I had just a little bit extra garage space I would buy one for days when it is raining and I don't want to bike. The gyroscope flywheels might be able to store a decent amount of energy and might be able to accept that energy faster than you could shove it into a battery pack. Using the flywheels as a short term energy buffer helps to reduce the number of cycles the batteries must endure.
        Thereminator
        • 1 Year Ago
        @danfred411
        Thanks for your added speculation.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @danfred411
        Hi danfred It would certainly be a lot more aerodynamic than a Twizzy. So I see this type of vehicle being more suited to high speed highway use. If it is used for highway trips and not around a city then I think that the Monotracer/ Etracer training wheel arrangement would be more practical. I agree with paulwesterberg that regen power might well be able to be efficiently stored in the gyros and it will be interesting to see what they come up with should it ever get to market.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          @ DarylMc I don't think this vehicle has much of a commercial future, but hell, I love to see one actually on the road ! I'm a real fan of eccentric vehicles like this, adding colour and diversity.
        rick.danger
        • 1 Year Ago
        @danfred411
        The trouble in the US is, we don't have a classification for quad vehicles other than NEVs, which are limited to mostly 25 MPH, making them useless to drive. The starting price for the 1st production run of C-1s is going to be a bit stiff at around $26,000, but they plan larger subsequent runs and hope to get the price down to around $15-16,000 in a couple of years. More $$ than a Twizzy, but it will also blow the "doors" off of one too. They expect it to have somewhere around the magic 200 miles of range, 0-60 in 6 seconds and a top speed of 100+ MPH. Considering the cost of Harleys these days, it's not so out of line.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @danfred411
        I think the fact that this car gets the equivalent of 500 miles to the gallon, paired with the target cost of $16,000 (after scaling production). This price point with that efficiency will drive a lot of consumers into their fold. Also, I hear you can hockey blade stop with it... which sounds fun as heck!!!
      godscountry
      • 11 Months Ago
      we can't keep running down the highway in 3-5 thousand pound vehicles with one person onboard.At some point we have to change our way of commuting.These vehicles take up,half the space,offer incredible range ,MPG,low to no emissions,reduce our oil consumption,and imports,have less impact on the highways and infrastructure.For those that say we can't build a safe small vehicle,look at indy cars or formula one cars,drivers getting out after hitting the wall at 200 mph.I would think we can build a safe small vehicle that can protect the occupants at normal road speeds.In the end,it make take a open source project,to get the job done,where the goal is to fix the problem,not make a profit..As far as I'm concerned, Detroit and the rest of the worlds car builders, are doing little to nothing to build a better vehicle for the masses.Its just plain boring,same old box with rounded corners,everyone looks the same,drives the same,I see nothing to smile about,do you?
      Roger Wildermuth
      • 1 Year Ago
      Diagram must be a Lit C-1/2; since the C-1 is a 2-place vehicle. :-)
      • 1 Year Ago
      Congratulations to the Inventor or Inventors, I wish them the best success ever! Myself I'm working in project that uses the third law of mass conservation according to Newton. I wish someday I can team up with Lit Motors, my invention can be installed in their invention. The mayan codex had written down about energy but you all know how the catholic church slaved my people. I am afraid PEMEX will kill me for doing the invention, it will kill 80% or more of the oil industry, yet since PEMEX steals my oil, it will be fair I can take some of its costumers, costumers will no use fuel or oil but pure clean energy. Mexican President is not supporting enough about intellectual property in my country like he should or must to. I will buy one!! I hope you take mexican silver pesos, NOT FIAT MONEY, if that is the case I will pay with bitcoins!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just wish Lit Motors would offer one model that is a multi fuel electric hybrid capable of achieving over 200 mpg, with a 5 gallon fuel tank which would offer drivers the capability of not needing to refuel for over 1,000 miles. That's my only gripe. I do love the company and product.
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