The ElectriLite is designed sell in the $3,000 area and provide
personal transportation, sports transportation, aerobic exercise (simultaneously!)
and cruise at 800 Watts (20 MPH). Low vehicle weight reduces energy
requirements and allows power to be derived from batteries (1400 Watt-hours),
pedal power (250 Watts per person) and/or solar cells at 200 Watts.. Regenerative
braking reclaims energy normally lost through thermal braking and provides
control not present in other vehicles.
The ElectriLite body is formed from a single sheet of thermoplastic with energy absorbent foam accessories (front bumper section and door panels) used to minimize occupant and pedestrian injury. The center-tube frame provides a conduit for joystick control, braking and electrical interconnection. The side rails and roll bar portions of the frame provide additional occupant protection in the event of side impact or rollover. Batteries are stored externally behind the seats in molded compartments.
The ElectriLite instrumentation and control system relies on the Instrument Panel Computer, a programmable Personal Computer, to flexibly manage vehicle power and current situation display. The IPC also reduces wiring and component costs by use of solid state light and security switching controlled with the track-ball contained in the joystick motion controller. All the functions of a personal computer are also available for fun and utilitarian uses.
The ElectriLite technical concept is one of minimalist hardware to get the job done and minimum tooling to allow manufacturing in small communities. The aluminum frame is welded of tubing in simple fixtures and the plastic parts are bent or molded using simple fabrication fixtures. Other components are either available from local bicycle oriented distributors or from a growing list of distributors.
The ElectriLite community concept is that of local manufacture and economic impact. Vehicles made locally contribute to local economies and improve both infrastructure and state of mind for community participants. Appropriate transportation like the ElectriLite allows community growth in terms of quality of life without the adverse cultural impact imparted by petroleum based technology.
Why light, electric community vehicles like the ElectriLite? On a planet growing globally in economy and shrinking locally in community, a change in how we transport ourselves on Earths surface is vital. Current trends show faster, bigger and slicker machines zooming us around in insulated, egocentric comfort. My hypothesis is that the introduction of small, ecological vehicles, created and maintained within communities, will change the very nature of the social contract because it:
1. Induces a sense of ecological satisfaction
2. Makes ecological transport affordable by all
3. Retains considerable cash flow in the community
4. Reduces both infrastructure wear and injury/accident rate
5. Increases opportunities for community interaction and cooperation
6. Provides tools for improved community communication and efforts in common
7. Empowers users with the understandable nature and modest simplicity in the vehicle.
In order to bring such a machine to people the mechanism for creating it must be in line with a paradigm of new community; a sharing of effort for the larger goal rather than the "strictly capital " bottom line. We are all resistant to doing business with faith in the intents of the technical folks; there always seems to be a risk of losing something personal in the interaction - faith in self and others is an elusive and significant aspect of our culture.
I am suggesting that the ElectriLite M2 plan, with participation from a number of folks can have the attitude and energy needed to begin the exploration. My personal qualifications as one facilitator in this effort are a diverse technical competence, extensive managerial experience and well explored philosophical perspectives; ex-Apollo program technical manager, ex-technical sales executive, small business principal, educator and Quaker are some of the roles which define my competencies. I strongly believe in an impending social revolution/evolution that will redefine the quality of life on the planet. We all know that such an evolutionary step must first occur as a change in consciousness. I am personally open to that change and ready to be an instrument of its propagation.
Do you think that light vehicles can make a significant difference? Is the time appropriate for such an effort to occur? Do you want to be a part of such an effort? What can we do together?
FRAME: 1.5" Aluminum tubing/fixture cut and welded. Formed/curved
tubing components. * .030" Aluminum belly pan wrapped around sides, front
& rear bulkheads and welded to the tubular frame.
Cost $250 Weight Goal 70#
DRIVE: Parallel plate (lightened aluminum) swing arm enclosing
motor close to pivot point (to improve sprung/unsprung weight ratio)
and cog belt driven 20" wheel. * Motor is PMBLDC with enclosed proven controller
(40 foot-lbs/2000RPM) and final drive of 1:5 ratio.
Cost $300 Weight Goal 35#
SUSPENSION: Front- Dual "A" frame, shock/spring assembly with
variable ratio bell crank and center console joystick control. * 20" wheels/
2.25" tires with hydraulic disk brakes. * Tilt wheel/leaner geometry
to improve handling and eliminate axial thrust on wheels. * Rear- Dual
shock - strut/spring assembly with drum brake.
Cost $200 Weight Goal 35#
INTERIOR: 2 molded plastic or tubing seats with seat belts.
* Floor, lower doors, behind seats, dash & seats covered with
hemp canvas. * Dash and lower door panel of cast , energy absorbent
Cost $200 Weight Goal 35#
EXTERIOR: Windshield/roof/rear window -sheet of clear polycarbonate,
fixture molded. * Bumper/nose/wheel well - cast energy absorbent plastic
foam - possibly using recycled styrofoam. * Windows - swing up polycarbonate
with flexible hinges at roof, soft rubber seals and Velcro bottom attachments.
* 2 Mirrors.
Cost $300 Weight Goal 25#
ELECTRICAL: Lights - 2-40 Watt headlights, 5 dual brake/parking/directional
lights, 2 interior lights. * 24-48 Volt DC to 12 Volt - 25
Amp. non-isolated converter (85% efficiency). * 15A/42V battery charger
(4 hr charge). * Single connector power bus wiring with harness,
joystick throttle with directionals switch, * Windshield defroster
& 200 Watt heater.
Cost $400 Weight Goal 30#
ELECTRICAL CONTROL: Windows compatible Instrument
Panel Computer with solid state switching and data acquisition/control
circuitry. * Program includes: digital /analog speed display, digital volts,
amps, motor temp., interior temp., odometer, trip odometer, clock, miles-to-go
battery gauging, battery history, light management system, no-key security
Cost $300 Weight Goal 5#
BATTERIES: 3-12 Volt /70 Amp-Hr (36 Volts/70
AH) mounted outside of cabin in rear compartments.
Cost $200 Weight Goal 120#
GENERATORS: 2 pedal generators 500 Watts/50V each; easily
removable and storable.
Cost $250 Weight Goal 25#
Totals: Cost $2,400 Weight Goal 380# (maximum)
ElectriLite M2 - General Specifications:
1. Performance; Maximum speed: 40 MPH, Grade: 10% @ 30 MPH, Torque
@ wheel: 200 foot-pounds
2. Range: 40 miles @ 30 MPH with no assistance or regeneration (2400 watt/hrs)
3. Power consumption: 1800 Watts @ 30 MPH on level grade, 800 Watts @ 18 MPH
4. General: 2 person, 300 pound, 3 wheel (single rear drive, double front steering), tiller steering with wheel tilt, hydraulic disk brakes on front, fully enclosed and roll caged with 8 cubic feet of storage. 84" wheelbase, 48" track & 50" height
Is this vehicle safe? Yes - In frontal crash situations a well designed "crush zone" based vehicle can be as safe as a sub-compact. BMW is now offering a 2 wheel vehicle called the C1 which utilizes a tailored crush zone of expanded polypropylene that has been crash tested at 50 km/hr into the side of a vehicle moving at 25 km/hr with "walk away" results. It does require crossed seat belts and has received a helmet requirement exemption in Germany.
Is the computer necessary? Yes, for 3 reasons: 1. It cost effectively provides situation information and performance history about the vehicle ( miles left on batteries, charge/discharge rates, energy expended, speed, miles Ö.etc.) that require computation and understandable display. 2. It grossly simplifies vehicle wiring and electrical management by harnessing all wiring to one modular point and eliminating electromechanical switches. 3. It provides a useful personal computer in the vehicle for security, maintenance management, entertainment, navigation and communication. That same PC platform makes possible satellite vehicle location, collision avoidance and robotic guidance among many other tasks.
Why only 3 wheels? Tri-wheel configuration is the most stable and cost effective platform for a light vehicle. Wide track front steering provides excellent horizontal and directional stability for side by side occupants while a single wheel thrust source in the rear innately provides acceleration and directional stability. General control and handling will be superb due to the "leaner" suspension geometry, similar to the Mercedes-Benz F300 (alas, I.C.E. powered) tri-wheeler which advertises .9G cornering. This technique proves to be inexpensive to produce and provides motorcycle-like handling in the vehicle by leaning the wheels away from the turn and lowering the body on the inside of the turn; the single rear wheel merely follows the body roll and reduces wheel stresses. Combined with the joystick steering the vehicle will handle somewhat like an airplane.
Why only 40 mph ? Initial vehicles only require 40 mph and high safety is obtained at that maximum speed. When a number of vehicles are on the road it would be natural to upgrade to 60-65 mph with much testing and human factor controls incorporated. Note that 60 mph pedal bicycles are available for purchase at this time.
Why pedal power? Many people have asked for foot powered generators and access to it provides an appropriate sense of the energy required to move around on the surface of the planet and makes it possible to use in places where energy sources are not available or too expensive for common use. This feature is only possible because the ElectriLite can cruise at low (less than 500 Watts) power levels due to itís size and efficiency. Pedaling can also augment battery and solar cell power to extend range; or perhaps to help pump water in third world farming situations.
What is the licensing situation? It is too early to accurately define application of licensing laws, but the minimum is motorcycle rules (perhaps without helmets!) and even no licensing is possible in some areas. Initial insurance queries indicate reluctance, but probably low cost liability. A strong case can be made for the ElectriLite to be classed as a bicycle - the legal battle should be quite interesting.
Hasn't someone else already done this? Not
that we know of!; but check it out.
Why do we need another economic path? Our planet is moving inexorably towards a corporatization of virtually all economic activity. This movement towards specialization and centralization leads to concentration of power in fewer hands and requires continual expansion of the movement to allow it to survive. The costs of this trend are a reduction of individual rights, decay of human values based on community and a reduction in individual self-esteem. The corporate paradigm is basically anti-community and must be limited or supplanted by other, community oriented eco-nomic paradigms to allow expression of human efforts toward a maintainable ecology and evolution of a truly human quality of life.
What are the advantages of community based economics?
1. Locally based economies can allocate resources and capital where the community and appropriate individuals are served best by the resources available. Local control is created by local investment and encourages economic striving in a stewardship fashion.
2. Capital invested in the community circulates within the community and benefits the community much more that enterprises where distant corporations and landlords extract there share of the capital and
3. Individuals, and the community as a whole, benefit in self-esteem capital because their services and worth are valued by their peers; they can see the value that they are creating. This aspect has inestimable value in creating community "spiritual" capital.