Venture Vehicles has announced that they will develop a two passenger, three-wheeled vehicle powered by either a pure plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid petrol-electric powertrain. Under the working name of VentureOne, the new vehicle is to be designed and built in California based on the existing Carver three-wheeler already available in Europe.
Even with its single front wheel and its narrow form, the VentureOne arguably has more in common with a conventional car than a motorcycle due to the fully enclosed cabin, upright seating position, steering wheel, foot pedals and gear stick. The vehicle is actually the same height and length as a MINI Cooper but the driver sits as high off the road as they would in a BMW 3-Seriers.
Despite the VentureOne's height and narrow body, it will be very stable while rounding bends due to its most astounding feature, the ability to tilt the driver and passenger over as it corners. Like a motorcycle, this means that there is no 'overturning torque' on the wheels and the resultant forces always pass through the centre-line of the vehicle. The Carver three-wheeler pioneered the unique tilting design which allows the front wheel and both in-line passengers tilt up to 45 degrees while cornering even as the rear two wheels, anchored by the motor, remain firmly on the ground.
Carver describes the corner tilting sensation as "You steer it like a car, but when cornering it banks like a motorcycle while you feel like you are flying a jetfighter. The thrill of this tilting capability combined with the handling of a sports car makes for an exhilarating driving experience unlike any other."
Read on for more about the VentureOne and our upcoming interview after the jump.
[Editor's note: In-depth interview with Venture Vehicle's co-founder Ian Bruce is now available here, and we've got some video of the vehicle in action here.]
Is it just me or does the VentureOne look straight out of Tron?
The VentureOne will be available in three configurations including the Venture d50 Hybrid Drive which has a 50 kW powertrain, the faster Venture Q100 Hybrid Drive which has a 100 kW powertrain (giving the Q100 a 120 mph / 193 km/h top speed!) and the all-electric Venture EV which has a 40 kW powertrain and reduced range, but zero emissions.
The series hybrid system used consists of a small, internal combustion engine running on standard gasoline, E100 pure ethanol, or any blend in between, connected to a 15 – 20 kW generator. Propulsion is provided by two in-wheel 25 kW electric motors which are also connected to a 3 kWh lithium-ion (li-ion) battery pack. The all-electric model loses the internal combustion engine but gains a much larger 17 kWh li-ion battery pack to compensate. To be priced at between $18,000 for the hybrid d50 model and $23,000 for the all-electric EV model, the VentureOne is being designed for mass production of over ten thousand vehicles per year.
The three-wheeler has a long list of features that grab your attention, including incredible 100 mpg / 2.4 L per 100 km fuel economy (all models) matched with top speeds over 100 mph / 160 km/h (hybrid models). Plus, with the entire vehicle weighing only 1,200 lbs / 544 kg, the VentureOne should clock in 0-60 mph times less than 8 seconds for the EV and less than 5 seconds for 100 kW Hybrid Drive.
A significant difference between the VentureOne and regular motorcycles is planned to be its array of safety features which will allow it to meet or exceed U.S. Federal safety standards for cars despite being officially classified as a motorcycle. Safety features being integrated into the design include a chrome-moly steel roll-cage, collapsible steering column, side impact rails, driver's airbag and break-away engine mount. Three-point driver and passenger seatbelts, safety glass, digital traction control and ABS are all standard safety elements.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( NHTSA) has determined that a standard car meeting its safety standards are 33 times more safer than motorcycles, a claim that the VentureOne should be able to make as well. Its classification as a motorcycle does have some benefits though, such as enjoying full access the world's High-Occupancy (HOV) lanes.
Venture Vehicles are licensing Carver Engineering's patented Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) tilting technology and have full access to Carver's research, computer models, and on-site engineering consulting capabilities in support of its development of the VentureOne. BMW DesignWorksUSA is being given the task of turning the VentureOne concept into a full road-going vehicle based on Venture Vehicles' design direction rendering. At this early stage, the final appearance of the VentureOne is well and truly subject to change. BMW DesignWorksUSA have a great deal of experience in developing concepts and have been involved in many previous automotive design projects including the BMW 3 Series, X5, X Coupe and Rolls-Royce Phantom.
Other partners Venture Vehicles are calling upon to make the VentureOne a reality are Swift Engineering who are a premier engineering and composite components design and manufacturing company; California Motors who designs, engineers, and prototypes vehicles with advanced technology powertrains; and A123 Systems who develop next generation li-ion battery systems.
Analysis: In Australia at least we refer to motorcycle riders as "temporary residents" due to the dangers of being a rider involved in an accident with another vehicle. The fact that Venture Vehicles are placing as much as an emphasis on safety as they are on its amazing fuel efficiency and green credentials means that it should be a safe, fun and eco-friendly way to cruise around. I look forward to following the development of this exciting new vehicle as it proceeds through design and testing to production.
Look out for our upcoming interview with Ian Bruce, co-founder of Venture Vehicles, for more on the VentureOne here.