From Edison2.com Press Release. Photos courtesy Edison2.com.
Washington DC – September, 16, 2010: Edison2, a Lynchburg, Virginia, automotive innovation company led by Charlottesville developer and racing entrepreneur Oliver Kuttner, was presented a $5 million prize at the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE awards ceremony today at the Historical Society of Washington, DC. Edison2’s Very Light Cars – unprecedented combinations of light weight and low aerodynamic drag – were the only vehicles to survive the grueling Mainstream Class of the X PRIZE, in which cars were required to seat 4 passengers, go at least 200 miles on a tank or charge, and meet stringent performance, handling and emissions standards, all while achieving over 100 MPGe.
“The X Prize has shown that business as usual will not solve our dependence on foreign oil. All of the teams here today – the X Prize finalists – are departures from the ordinary”.
“Facts are stubborn things” continued Kuttner. “We named our company Edison2 because we accepted the conventional wisdom, that an electric or hybrid drive is the key to efficiency. But our analysis showed that the only two absolute virtues in auto efficiency are light weight and low aerodynamic drag. So we avoided the hundreds and hundreds of pounds of batteries needed for an electric and chose a conventional internal combustion engine running on E85”.
For the competition Kuttner assembled a top‐tier team of racing and aerospace engineers, designers and mechanics, including Chief of Design Ron Mathis, Aerodynamicist Barnaby Wainfan and Crew Chief Peter Kaczmar.
Mathis, who came to Edison2 from Audi Sport North America, was responsible for the groundup design of the Very Light Car. “Almost all components of the Very Light Car were re‐designed with an eye toward function, strength and light weight” said Mathis. He credited racing experience and knowledge for enhancing safety in a low‐mass car: “The same design principles that allow a driver to walk away from a high‐speed crash can make a light car a safe car.”
Kuttner believes the adoption of Very Light Car principles is a necessity if America is to address energy independence and climate change. “We need cars that simply take less energy to push, whether electric, hybrid, ethanol or gasoline.” But he also sees the development of a new market segment in the auto industry: lightweight, safe, aerodynamic cars, with the US as the focal point.
Currently Edison2 is actively seeking a new round of private financing as well as bolstering research and development capacity through federal and state funding opportunities. Kuttner is considering the purchase of a large facility to create a “technology cluster” surrounding the development of the next generation of the Very Light Car and serving as a launching point for manufacturing.
“The X Prize is only the beginning.” said Kuttner. “We need to demonstrate that low‐mass cars can be safe and meet FMVSS safety standards. We need to show how our Light Car principles can dramatically improve efficiency for electric, hybrid, diesel and natural gas systems. And we need to create cars to fit the wide needs of consumers: SUV’s, family sedans, sports and utility models – all light, aerodynamic, safe and incredibly efficient.”