Lit Motors aims to reinvent urban transportation with a fully enclosed, two-wheeled electric vehicle.
Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
Year Founded: 2010
The ideal way to get around a city is on a motorcycle, but it can also be dangerous. Meet the C-1: a two-wheeled electric vehicle with a sleek, fully enclosed chassis that provides more safety than a motorcycle.
The C-1 is the flagship vehicle of Lit Motors, which was founded by Daniel Kim in 2010. It has room for a driver and one passenger and is powered by a hub motor in each wheel. It also uses gyroscopic technology to stay upright even when stationary. The C-1 takes about four to six hours to fully charge and has a range of up to 200 miles per charge at a cruising speed of 65 mph.
Kim was inspired to found Lit Motors while working as a Land Rover mechanic. As he was rebuilding the drivetrain of an SUV, the chasse fell on him, nearly crushing him. “I stiff-armed the chasse and it shot me out,” Kim recalls. He says the experience made him question his involvement in the motor industry--and the role of large, inefficient utility vehicles. “Why was I building this?” he remembers thinking.
Ultimately, Kim decided that the auto market was ripe for an alternative. In fact, he describes the C-1 and his company's cargo scooter, both of which are still in development, as the “alternatives to the alternative.” Lit isn’t targeting only the owners of large gas-powered vehicles. The company hopes to hook bicyclists and motorcyclists, too. “You don’t need a helmet because you’re driving in your helmet," Kim says.
As of March, Lit had received nearly 800 pre-orders for the C-1, which costs $24,000. The company plans to roll out its first models by the end of 2014. Moving forward, Kim describes the company’s marketing strategy as a form of consumer courtship. “The gyroscopes initiate the romance,” he says, “but all the value that this vehicle has makes it easier to fall in love.”
FRANCESCA FENZI reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle. @FrancescaFenzi