Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Kevin Bullis

A View from Kevin Bullis

Startup Shows Off a Two-Wheeled Electric Car

Gyroscopes keep it from falling over; it’s not a Segway.

  • September 11, 2012

The key problem with electric cars is they’re expensive and can’t go very far. Some companies think the solution could be making the cars very smaller and lighter. GM, for example, has designed a little capsule of a car that it means to use on the crowded streets of Shanghai in the future (see “GM Rides a Rickshaw to China”).

Now TechCrunch says Lit Motors, a startup with less than a million dollars in funding, has developed its own lightweight prototype, which it calls a two-wheeled electric vehicle (more commonly known as a motorcycle). 

Two things make the vehicle different than an ordinary electric motorcycle though. First, it features a pod that encloses the driver, which is meant to make it more comfortable and safer on the road. Second it has a pair of gyroscopes that keep it from tipping over, which is necessary because your feet are stuck inside the pod and can’t be used to prop it up at a stop sign. It’s entertaining to watch a video of people from the company trying to kick it over (at around 1:04).

The vehicle has generated a fair amount of excitement, and the phrase “future of transportation” has been tossed around. But if the main selling point is that it’s safer than other motorcycles, that seems like a tough sell. It still looks tiny and vulnerable.

At an estimated $24,000 for the first production models it would be cheaper than full-sized electric vehicles but not much—the Nissan Leaf costs $35,200, or $27,700 after a federal tax rebate. The cost is expected to go down to $16,000 in large scale production, or about what some other electric motorcycles cost. 

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look: exclusive early access to important stories, before they’re available to anyone else

    Insider Conversations: listen in on in-depth calls between our editors and today’s thought leaders

  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.