Meet LowCVP winner WeatherVelo at the Sustainable Urban Mobility Seminar - 10 December 2012
A working prototype of the WeatherVelo Prime three-wheeled EV, British adaptation of a German design tailored for the London market, is nearing completion. Funding is sought for prototype refinement.
Bridging the gap between two-wheelers and cars - The WeatherVelo Prime is an electric cabin-scooter, stemming from many years of Anglo-German research, development and real-world experience.
Lightweight and affordable - One-third the weight of Renault's Twizy, WeatherVelo aims to enter the market with a retail price of £3,995 using affordable battery technology. (Twizy starts at £6,690 plus £45 monthly battery lease.)
Targeting the London market - Deigned with London's urban commuting market in mind.
Beating urban congestion - Slim like a two-wheeler, it offers scope to reduce urban congestion and pollution caused by single-occupancy car use.
Axon Automotive links - WeatherVelo has close links with Axon automotive, with manufacturing capacity for series/batch production and a turnkey micro-factory system enabling localised production near the end user.
WeatherVelo, led by Simon Bailey, develops lightweight (under 150kg) single-seat energy-efficient vehicles, to straddle the gap between two-wheelers and cars. A working prototype of WeatherVelo’s ‘Prime’ cabin-scooter, a three-wheeled pure-electric vehicle, is nearing completion.
The company has adapted the CabrioVelo vehicle, developed by Germany’s 4 Seasons Velos and completed in 2007, into a more commercially viable product, initially for the British (London) market. WeatherVelo has partnerships with both 4 Seasons Velos and Schöne Linie, which styled the bodywork. It also works with Axon Automotive on assembly of the prototype and chassis development.
While the CabrioVelo has a hybrid pedal-electric drivetrain and a folding roof, the WeatherVelo Prime incorporates a stronger roof and a pure electric drivetrain (since the parallel pedal-drive provided insufficient power in return for the additional complexity). Vehicles are being specified to meet legal requirements and will benefit in London from congestion charge exemption and eligibility to use bus lanes. The Prime, classed as a category ‘p’ (moped) in the UK, is similar in width to a motorcycle, but with the advantages of inherent stability and weather protection. In widespread use, like two-wheelers it offers scope to reduce urban congestion and pollution caused by single-occupancy car commuting. Capable of 28mph, the Prime can keep pace amid urban traffic, unlike bicycles or ‘pedelecs’ (15mph top speed). While not a solution for the school run or long trips, the range should be ample for most urban journeys and offer a faster commute (average traffic speeds in the centre of London are 16.9mph, or 10mph at peak times).
Primary markets include: urban commuting; personal transport; deliveries; runarounds – for local government, airport (airside) and private estates/hotels; and – with custom livery – promotions. Broader market opportunities based on a modification of the platform include: delivery vehicles with increased carrying capacity; alternative specification vehicles for elderly people; or an ’active’ version with auxiliary series pedal-drive to charge the battery and provide healthy exercise for the rider/driver.
At its maximum speed of 28mph (45km/h) the WeatherVelo Prime will consume 524.6g of CO2 per kWh (grid electricity generation) x 0.42kW = 225.6g per hour at 45km/h = 5g/km CO2 well-to-wheel, making it 40 times more efficient than the average car on the road today. Figures for stop-start conditions will be determined using new drive-cycle facilities at Bradford University. Being an extremely lightweight vehicle (even compared to the Renault Twizy, Zagato Volpe or Gordon Murray Design T.27) the WeatherVelo Prime offers lower inertia and thus greater efficiency.
Competitors include the wider and heavier Renault Twizy, the Zagato Volpe micro-car (due 2013), the Myers NmG (only available in USA), the CityEl (a low vehicle with limited rider size - production recently suspended) and the Lumeneo Smera (sophisticated but expensive, currently only available in France).
WeatherVelo is seeking investment of around £180,000 for prototype refinement (improvements to the chassis, drivetrain, wheels, seat and crash-testing) – and will require significantly more investment, in due course, for volume production. This would allow introduction of a more sustainable bodywork material such as ABS or PET, and above all reduce unit costs in line with the target retail price of £3,995 (compare with the Renault Twizy, which is priced at £6,690 plus battery lease). Axon Automotive has manufacturing capacity for series/batch production in Northamptonshire and WeatherVelo may also deploy Axon’s turnkey micro-factory system enabling localised production near the end-user.