It’s been nearly five years since Lit Motors unveiled its C-1 Auto-Balancing Electric Vehicle (AEV), which was slated to go on sale in 2013. The San Francisco-based company has yet to put it into production, and now one Chinese company is taking advantage of the delay.
The lightweight C–1 commuter is laid out like a motorcycle, but Lit Motors promises a greater degree of safety. The vehicle’s gyroscopic stability technology keeps it from tipping over, and an early video even showed a dramatization of it recovering after being struck by a car.
Over 1,000 people have placed reservations for a C-1, but they’re going to have to wait a while to take delivery. Elektrek reports that after receiving funding from Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO at Zynga, and Larry Page, co-founder of Google and CEO of Alphabet, Lit Motors is looking for more money. In a recent conference, Kim said that with $20 million, production can commence in about 24 months.
Lit Motors CEO Danny Kim composed a letter to hopeful customers this week, updating them on the stages of progress. “In addition to developing EP-5, we unlocked the doors to our storage facility and revived our beloved prototype EP-4 for dynamics testing,” Kim stated. “After installing a new custom battery pack, we are rediscovering all of the elegant, innovative solutions we made to this piece of engineering/design history.”
Kim also mentioned that the company will be offering test drives in San Francisco for those who pre-ordered a vehicle.
Chinese companies have come under fire many times (with little repercussion in many cases) for blatantly ripping off vehicle designs from heavy hitters such as BMW, Mercedes, and Rolls Royce. This is apparently not limited to four-wheel transport, as Beijing-based Lingyun Intelligent Technology is developing its own gyroscopically balanced two-wheeler.
Though a little healthy competition can be a good thing, you can’t deny the striking similarities between startup LIT’s (even the acronym raises suspicion) vehicle and Lit Motors’ AEV. The video below shows the single seater in question as well as a two seater, which were displayed at the recent Beijing Auto Show:
Lingyun reported a “USD 8-digit Series A funding round” from “Beijing-based angel investment fund Geek Bang, China Broadband Capital, Sequoia Capital China, ZhenFund and Beijing-based private equity fund Hillhouse Capital Management.”
As is the usual case with these types of knockoffs, the original should be a better machine. Lit Motors predicts a 150-mile range on a 10kWh battery pack with a top speed of 100 mph, while Lingyun’s concept should get 62 miles on a 3kWh pack and hit 62 mph.
Lingyun has not announced any pricing, but Lit Motors places a tag of $24,000. This is higher than earlier estimates, which were quoted as low as $16,000.