- Greetings Ecological Transportation Futurist -

Imagine yourself stepping into a small, sleek, enclosed, two-person vehicle. You turn the power switch to the on position, press the throttle, and begin accelerating silently down the road.

As you move along you exercise by pedaling the generator to recharge the battery and increase your range to over 50 miles; all under the supervision of the instrument panel computer.

Your top speed is 40 miles per hour and cruise is 30, just right for driving around your town, your neighborhood, or anywhere off the highways. To slow down you need only reduce throttle pressure and your  vehicle's inertial energy is smoothly and efficiently converted to recharge current for the battery. Moving around has never been as satisfying as this!


But where can you find such a great vehicle? Try here!

 This packet describes the ElectriLite, a new form of personal transportation.

This brochure is the copyright (1995) of Omni Instruments, Albion, CA 95410-0096

------ ElectriLite Highlights ------

* Low-cost ( $3,000 ) * Lightweight ( 300 pounds ) * Fully Enclosed ( Polycarbonate front and rear windscreens ) * Easy to park ( 9 feet long, 2.75 meters ) * Easy to license ( qualifies as a motorcycle with 3 wheels ) * Hybrid ( pedal generator, and solar cells ) * Fast ( 4O mph max )* Non-Highway use * Safe ( crushable plastic nose, seat belts, roll cage ) * Crash resistant ( 25 mph frontal test ) * Long range ( 50 miles at 35 mph with batteries, 100+ miles with moderate pedaling and solar cells ) * Big payload ( two passengers plus groceries ) * Stable two-wheels-in-front design with wide tire track * Batteries ( gelled electrolyte, sealed lead-acid batteries )This vehicle will be a natural for nickel metal hydride batteries when they are affordable.

---- WANTED ----

Daring individuals to change driving as we know it.

A Welcome Message From Steve McCrea

(Electric Vehicle book author, alternative fuel consultant and electric car advocate)

Hello! Thank you for taking time to evaluate this remarkable new vehicle. I'm excited about this product, so much so that I volunteered to write an introduction.

As you will see, this is not a typical vehicle. But I think you will agree that the time is right for this vehicle to be placed on the road.

I drive a pickup truck daily to run errands, often covering less than 10 miles. Since learning about this cute three wheeler, I've started groaning involuntarily every time I start my vehicle, because I know that I could be taking a more appropriate vehicle into town to pick up groceries and visit the library.

Help the planet, help me, and help yourself by doing what you can to get this project funded -- let's put Omni Instruments to work for us, making cycle cars

Enclosed is a paper called "Help Us Put A New Vehicle On the Streets" which lays out in simple language what the Omni Instruments project means to the future of personal transportation. It includes the "Questions & Answers About the ElectriLite."

At the end of this information packet, you will find a project description by Bernie (BC) Macdonald of Omni Instruments. He explains how you can help create a new type of vehicle -- a "Cycle Car" with electric motor, batteries, human-powered "hybrid" assist (when the driver pedals, electricity is made with the on-board generator), and solar cells. This vehicle is sized small and designed for efficiency to reduce or eliminate the requirement for chemical fuels or power mains. We believe that such a vehicle will revolutionize personal transportation and dramatically reduce our impact on the environment.

Using lightweight vehicles such as ElectriLite (300#) instead of large EVs or ICVs:

* Reduces energy used by at least 90%

* Reduces battery lead pollution by at least 90%

* Reduces fuel (or electricity) consumption by 90 to 95%

* Reduces ownership, maintenance and insurance costs by 90%

* Increases participation in community ecological efforts ( by example )

* Increases personal time by shortening door to door ( trip, parking, etc. ) time

* Increases personal fitness by providing exercise opportunities facilitated by the IPC

* Increases personal visibility regarding our concerns for local environment and economy

Technical Tidbit -- A "good" EV conversion ( 2500# VW ) uses at least 500 Watt Hours per mile, the ElectriLite is expected to use 50 Watt Hours per mile worst case! ( both at cruise )

Let's Put A New Vehicle On America's Streets

A short paper by Steve McCrea

Background: Numerous individuals and companies have pointed to the need for a "smaller than a car" vehicle that provides more protection from weather than a motorcycle. The proposal "Cycle Car" will be a new category of vehicle, somewhere between a motorcycle and a car. This new category will need a special name, perhaps "micro car."

Pounds vs Dollars: Detroit now finds itself in what I call a "price point". In 1960 US cars sold for $1/pound, now they are $10/pound. These numbers are largely dictated by the cost of the materials and are inescapable. Secondly, there is a minimum selling price per unit that can provide a return that will support the industry and infrastructure currently in place. Detroit can't sell 300 pound vehicles because there is not enough cash per unit to justify the design, sales and marketing costs in producing a $3000 vehicle. Thirdly, big capital flows where there is identifiable activity, and light electric vehicles have very little financial history. Add to all of this a lack of after-sale profit infrastructure (fuel, service, insurance, etc.) and the ElectriLite looks pretty unattractive to the classical capitalist. Time for a new economics paradigm?
Is it time for you to become a leader for appropriate transportation in your community?

Lightweight Vehicle Market Overview

With both interest and necessity driving the development of clean air vehicles, many efforts to develop lightweight vehicles that can meet public approval and consumer price expectation are underway. Several categories of vehicles have shown themselves to be viable in the yet to be developed market place. Among them is the neighborhood electric vehicle. However, the neighborhood vehicle concept has yet to demonstrate the ability to meet the price barrier, and its development has been stalled until such low cost vehicles (under $5000) can be shown to be manufacturable. Electric bikes and scooters have a real place in the local transportation mix but suffer from year round use limitations, making their use only for the hearty and the climatically privileged. A vehicle that uses bicycle technology that can offer an enclosure has a chance of making human powered technology a realistic alternative for local transportation and commuting. Light electric vehicles can further expand the acceptance of bicycles for commuter transport, making them useful for many more people.

We propose a lightweight, hybrid cycle car as the answer to the low cost local transportation vehicle. Cycle cars have been in existence for many years but none have ever been mass produced or have included an electric assist. One and two passenger vehicles have been demonstrated that have performed well and were reasonably comfortable. The electric option has only recently been explored commercially for bike category vehicles. The Sinclair C-5 made in England in the mid 1980s sold well over 10,000 vehicles. This vehicle was a hybrid blend of human power and electric driven power. The vehicle resembled a car and recumbent trike as it was semi-enclosed. The uniqueness of this vehicle and its low price ($900) is what accounted for most of its sales. It was lacking in many areas but still drew the interest of young and old alike.

The appeal of combining human and electric power is evident whenever such a product is offered. An effort to learn from the limitations of past efforts and the inclusion of new power technologies could lead to then production of a vehicle that could replace the neighborhood electric, the open air scooter, and many unused bikes and could cost under $2000 retail. Such a vehicle would have a gross vehicle weight of 400 to 600 pounds and a curb weight under 300 pounds including batteries. The vehicle will look somewhat conventional, be easy to get in and out of, and be powered by the latest technology with many micro- processor options to make it technologically attractive. It would be nominally peddlable for transport and exercise, inexpensively rechargeable and could derive a significant portion of its power from solar cells.

The projected pricing is based on known costs for aluminum based 2 & 3 wheeled recumbents, the costs of drive systems (electric wheel motor) and thermo-plastic molded body parts. Component costs could be under $1000 in large production quantities and under $4000 to the buyer.

It is our conclusion that vehicle cost relative to its performance and projected use is the largest factor in establishing a consumer driven market for clean air vehicles. The shift from the commuter mentality to light transportation options and tele-commuting incentives has already encouraged larger use and development of mass transit systems, clearly indicating the viability of short range electric vehicles. That coupled with the known bicycle sales in the US and the third worlds make us confident that the market for such vehicles is large. Our experience with bike conversion kits also tells us that bike technology is also acceptable to the same audience that might consider a neighborhood electric car.

As a philosophical conclusion, we are expending 30 to 40 percent of our national budget on transportation related infrastructure, personal transportation accounting for the majority of use. The internal combustion powered automobile is the largest ecological intrusion on our lives and, by its very use, alienates us from our environment and community. The neighborhood car philosophy offers a dramatic reduction in eco-waste and, if the vehicles are locally produced, creates a human appropriate, non- alienating local industry that can bind communities and neighborhoods together encouraging socio- ecologically responsible life styles. We solicit your thoughts, opinions and participation in these efforts BC Macdonald & Joe Stevenson

P.S. At the turn of the century over 10,000 light electric vehicles were on the road in the USA

About Omni Instruments: We have been around for 18 years as a small partnership intent on keeping up with technology and doing enough business to stay sharp. Our projects have included micro-computers in bio-medicine and health care delivery, technical education, a lot of electronic power management and a good taste of environmental activism.

We are located in Redwood country and keep in touch with the state of the forest as well as state of the technical arts. Walks in the woods bring a reality which urges us to live our lives in an ecologically sound manner. We strive to keep our application of technology in line with the realities of the environment, and our motivations in line with what we see as a planet in distress. We are pursuing every available opportunity to participate in a positive planetary future and strive to more fully recognize our ecological responsibilities as citizens and stewards of this great planet.

Our engineering perspective is one in which transportation systems minimize their impact on the environment and maximize their utility and enjoyment for the user. To accomplish this efficiently requires projects to be computer modeled and the production interface ready to service the marketplace. We are prepared to accomplish these goals and believe that you are ready to move in these new and ratified ecologies.

Development Proposal - ElectriLitecr; EWheelcr Propelled APV

The ElectriLite is a 300 pound, 2 place electric vehicle designed to use a combination of battery power, pedal power and solar power to cruise over 50 miles at 35 mph on batteries and over 100 miles with a little sun and a little work. The single EWheel traction-motor provides enough motive power to quickly accelerate to speed and climb 30% grades. The EWheel features high-performance regenerative braking to increase operator control and system efficiency while reducing system cost

ElectriLite is designed for fun, safety and utility with many unique features such as:

* Joystick control -- side motion steers the vehicle while forward motion commands acceleration and rearward motion slows ElectriLite regeneratively and stops fully using conventional brakes.

* Front bumper of energy absorbent foam provides wide margin of safety in front collision.

* Dashboard Computer provides situation display, energy status, light/power control, security and exercise monitoring facilities plus full service information on line.

* Fully enclosed design provides all weather transportation with a futuristic appearance and a rugged, minimum maintenance thermoplastic body.

* Wide tread front suspension provides superb steering and stability.


ElectriLite is designed to sell in the $3,000 area and provide personal transportation, sports transportation and aerobic exercise (simultaneously!). Target weights and OEM costs at the 1000 quantity level are:

The ElectriLite is designed to cruise at 500 to 600 Watts (30 MPH) using an EWheel with ceramic magnets for lower cost. Low vehicle weight reduces energy requirements and allows power to be derived from batteries (1400 Watt-hours), pedal power (250 Watts per person) and/or solar cells at 300 Watts. An average person can provide 100 to 200 watts for extended time periods so two people can easily provide enough power to zip along through city streets at speeds up to 25 MPH without the use of batteries. With the added help of solar cells it becomes a real hot-rod. The scale of this vehicle demands less power to provide locomotion; the result is a platform on which alternative sources of power can provide significant part of the motive energy . The final outcome is an ecologically sound , elegant transportation system.

The ElectriLite body is formed from a single sheet of thermoplastic which is surface textured to provide an attractive, high touch surface. Energy absorbent foam accessories (front bumper section and door panels) are used to minimize occupant and pedestrian injury. The center-tube frame provides a conduit for joystick control, braking and electrical interconnection. The side rails and roll bar portions of the frame provide additional occupant protection in the event of side impact or rollover. Batteries are stored behind the seats in molded compartments close to the EWheel and operator controls.

The ElectriLite instrumentation and control system relies on the Instrument Panel Computer to manage vehicle power and current situation display. The IPC also reduces wiring and component costs by use of solid state light and security switching controlled with the track-ball contained in the joystick control. The IPC is a standard personal computer and may be programmed ( or re-programmed ) by the user. Additionally, the IPC has virtually unlimited utility for future applications in the ElectriLite and other electric vehicles or large vehicle conversions requiring user friendly electrical power management and predictive energy storage and management.

The ElectriLite system is a maximum utility - minimum material /energy transportation platform designed for construction, use and maintenance in the community setting as an inclusive, truly ecological, people-moving tool.

Fun, Fun, Fun: Admit it -- even at its smoothest, internal combustion motoring is an abrupt and erratic mode of getting around on anything but highways. A twisty, winding, back road requiring powerful accelerations punctuated by hard braking is the ultimate test of skill for someone testing their personal survival skills. To achieve such a supernormal experience of intense motion without effort is the object of the effort. If you get through it in one piece you rate merit badge; or a dunce cap. Enter the tightly coupled electric drive vehicle -- accelerate smoothly and silently to selected speed, adjusting speed for the current situation and trading inertia for regenerated power as you decelerate for turns. Changing speed to match road requirements becomes a satisfying reflex with the machine responding to the single control -- no back and forth from accelerator to decelerator (brake), no lost energy in accelerating and decelerating -- just a smooth, efficient response to your motion control commands and driving needs. Mercy, it's an ElectriLite powered by Ewheel.

What are your thoughts on the ElectriLite concept?

We are really interested in your opinion on how this vehicle should be configured and how it should work. We particularly invite IPC programming input. There will be a monthly newsletter (EVLite) where we will publish letters and comments from buyers and other interested people who share our excitement. As a member you will receive EVLite which will contain your inputs, engineering drawing abstracts, modeling programs and reports on progress in general. The publication alone could prove to be a useful platform for discussion of small, alternative transportation paradigms. EVLite will be on the Internet (WWW & email) to keep up the pace and to minimize paper waste for those people who have computers. If you share in the dream of communities returning to idyllic neighborhood settings with quiet appropriate vehicles leading the new commerce, start talking to us - we're listening.

EWheelcr Traction Motor System

The EWheel is a brushless, permanent magnet, electronically commutated traction motor integrated into the wheel structure to provide effective solutions for propulsion of personal and commercial vehicles. Using currently available materials and semiconductor devices, the system optimizes efficiencies and operations by eliminating power transmission redundancies/inefficiencies and by intimate control stratagems possible only through computer optimized application of electro-mechanical and electronic control techniques.

New magnetic materials and integrated electronic power controls combine with innovative magnetic and electro-mechanical design to create an elegant transducer that provides propulsion and braking without gears or additional external power transmission components other than the battery. Applying the EWheel to a vehicle design frees up the designer to deal with handling, energy management and passenger safety/comfort.


Features:    The EWheel provides forward and reverse motion and regenerative braking to ratings while attached to the platform by a 3 to 4 inch hollow, rigid shaft, 2 power cables and a fiber-optic control line. The axle also acts as a conduit for cooling air where it is required. Standard commutation provides an 800 to 1200 RPM rotation and higher rotation speeds may be obtained by varying phase sequencing; in effect an electronic gear shift. Motor operation is managed by a microprocessor which measures temperature, RPM, current and voltage as well as adjusting commutation sequence and power input ( pulse width modulator duty cycle ). The micro -processor tracks these characteristics and takes corrective (such as reduce the power input when the windings are too hot) action and/or communicates them to the vehicle management computer via RS-232 communications port. The actual commutation (energizing the correct winding at the right time) is done by highly efficient MOSFET power transistors - the newest solid state wonder.

Power Aspects:   Torque range configurations of 5 to 500 foot-pounds have been examined. This is approximately 2 to 50 horsepower at 1200 RPM. The wheel diameter to express these ratings ranges from 12 inches to 24 inches and weights from 12 to 40 pounds (complete with tire). Voltages required to operate at these power levels range from 12 to 180 Volts at 100 to 300 Amperes maximum. Efficiency is greater than 90% throughout power range. A 300# vehicle requires a 7 horsepower /15 pounds Ewheel for modest acceleration performance (10 seconds to 20MPH) and 40 MPH top speed.

General:    The EWheel derives its system efficiencies and advantages from the following features:

1. Torque is produced at some distance from the center of rotation and are therefore multiplied by the inherent torque arm. There is no mechanical backlash as in geared or other driven systems.

2. Proximity of magnetic elements allows maximum coupling and optimum conversion of magnetic forces to torque (and vice-versa). This also allows a wide range of magnetic materials to be used to optimize performance and cost considerations (I.E. ceramic vs rare earth magnets). Hall effect magnetic field sensors utilize magnet proximity to determine commutation sequence.

3. Stator - armature construction is by machined copper laminations providing a stable mechanical structure with superior thermal characteristics and potentially low cost ( twice the cost of the copper material)

4. Electronic commutation at the wheel allows dramatic flexibility in operational modes and very high energy efficiencies. Use of a microprocessor in full control of all electrical parameters facilitates any required torque/power control stratagem; anti-lock braking, limited slip motoring and single pedal motion control then are easily programmable options. This use of electronic technology qualifies the EWheel as a smart bi-directional electrical - inertial (torque) transducer.

5. Multiple phase stator configuration increases copper utilization, reduces weight, and allows relatively inexpensive power semiconductor components to be used in commutation current control.

6. In-wheel brushless design eliminates redundant motor frame and bearings plus gears and belts/shafts for significant savings in cost and weight. Brushless design eliminates all frictional wear, increases efficiencies, and eliminates contamination in the case. The only components that can wear are the two oversized bearings that are easily and inexpensively replaceable and are shielded by the case and hub. Potential EWheel life is ostensibly infinite if the bearings are replaced at 100,000 mile intervals.

7. Simple mechanical design requires 7 component inventory (2 piece hub, armature, controller, magnets, 2 bearings, a 2 piece case and fasteners). There is virtually no assembly labor because all parts snap together and are tightened with less than 20 fasteners. All assembly operations may be performed using a minimum of tools or may be automated for the increases in labor productivity.

8. Costs -OEM cost estimates and weights for a 7 horsepower EWheel:

Conclusion:    The EWheel concept is a natural way to convert electrical to mechanical and mechanical to electrical energy for transportation. It applies magnetic and electronic technology directly to the task of converting electrical energy to motion and vice-versa, all with high efficiency. Its simplicity lends itself to manufacture, service and inclusion in new or retrofit vehicles where it can save enough weight to make a real difference in on-board energy storage required and vehicle performance in general. Finally, smaller versions allow creation of light and efficient people - sized vehicles with modest energy appetites. With local produceability appropriate for ecologically mandated communities, such vehicles certainly will provide an appropriate and environmentally effective tool for the future of planet Earth.

Ecology:(from Websters) 1. Biological : the relationship between living organisms & their environment 2. Sociological: the relationships of human groups regarding material resources & consequent social and cultural patterns. If We are aware of these relationships, we have a responsibility to take mitigating, constructive action as soon as possible to minimize our impact on our neighborhoods and our planet.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About the ElectriLite

Q. Why is the vehicle so small?

A. The cost of ownership and the amount of energy to move a vehicle are directly proportional to the weight of the vehicle. A rule of thumb is $10/pound for ownership and 20 Watts/ pound for power consumption at low cruise. ( 300#, $3000, 600 Watts for ElectriLite Vs 2000#, $20,000, 4000 Watts for a converted Geo )

Q. How far can the Cycle Car travel?

 A. Because of the light weight, low energy requirement of the ElectriLite, range is limited more by user's endurance and how much sunlight is available. Cruising takes 500 to 600 Watts which can be supplied by two people pedaling or by 4-150 Watt high-efficiency solar panels. With full batteries and no help, the ElectriLite will get at least 50 miles range. This assumes a fairly flat road at 30-35 MPH.

Q. Why is the motor in the wheel?

A. A self-contained wheel motor is the optimum way to move a vehicle around. The enclosed case makes it roomier in the vehicle, reduces wiring, reduces vehicle weight, increases reliability and eliminates the noise , adjustments and maintenance of a belt drive system. The Ewheel is an ideal motion transducer.

Q. How big is the Cycle Car?

A. The wheel base will be 7 feet, with an overall length of less than 9 feet and a width of 4 feet. It sits 50" high to allow interior room and to be seen easily (and to be able to see well!) for added safety.

Q. How safe is it?

A. The roll cage, seat belts, high visibility and crushable front end of the Cycle Car provide much superior crash resistance; the advantages over a bicycle or a motorcycle are obvious. A 25 mph frontal collision crash will be done to qualify the structural integrity of the vehicle in the most common damage mode.

Q. What options will come with the vehicle?

A. At present, the options will be a pedal generator, a windshield wiper; solar cells and a small heater.



RSVP - The Quality of our Communities and the Fate of our Planet is on the Brink.....
                                                                                                        May we all live in interesting times!
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