A bit of excitement to start the new year: V-Electric has been awarded a New Zealand government R&D grant by Callaghan Innovation! This now kicks off an extensive research and development program to further many aspects of the Velopetta. Keep an eye out for news as the project progresses over the next several months.
A bit about Callaghan Innovation:
Our purpose is to help New Zealand businesses succeed through technology. We provide a single front door to the innovation system for businesses at all stages of their innovation journey – from start-ups to the most experienced R&D performers.
Here are some quick rendered views of the now almost complete Velopetta design. The windscreen riser is still missing, and the soft-top is still to come.
The timber hoop behind the driver acts as a roll bar, but will also facilitate the attachment of the soft-top.
Both front and rear lights have been added. The front lights will include both low and high beam, and indicators, in the same unit. Efficient LED bulbs, of course. A pull handle has also been added – especially useful because the Velopetta does not have reverse. A target weight of 45kg means pulling or even lifting the rear of the vehicle shouldn’t be difficult.
Although there is actually a huge amount of internal storage (both in the front and the rear) a luggage rack has been added. The rack is a stylish combination of timber and aluminium, and will allow suitcases, boxes or the obligatory picnic basket for the promo shots to be attached with cords or tie downs.
The first few images show the vehicle painted white, which very nicely offsets the darker timber.
In reality it is unlikely that the prototype will be painted, so the last render shows more like how it would look in its natural carbon fibre finish.
The design for the Velopetta prototype has progressed quickly during the past few months.
The chassis design is based almost exclusively on rectangular aluminium section, with minimum number of joins for strength and simplicity. Once the prototype is complete and testing starts, parts will need to be redesigned and replaced as they fail or are improved. The focus of the first phase will be functionality, strength and safety, and the second phase will be weight reduction and finish.
We’ve been working with a highly experienced local composites company, fibreglass developments, who will create the moulds and the carbon fibre body shells. They are helping ensure the body shape can be easily pulled from moulds with no undercuts that will prevent the part from releasing.
The body will be moulded in two halves, with each half requiring a two-piece mould (also called a multi-part or split-mould). The two halves will be joined with a ‘racing strip’ of formed laminated timber. More timber parts will be used as framing to reinforce areas of the body, such as around the sill and door opening, both for strength and look.
The biggest piece of design work remaining, that is actually causing a few headaches, is the soft-top design. It’s proving difficult to get a design that both looks good and provides enough clearance for tall drivers!
Here are some more images of the current design. Note that this is a work in progress and may still change before construction, but is pretty close to final.
After the difficulty faced in trying to get the v2 certified for road use (which meant legally registering as a moped), we started to rethink the concept.
Our vision is to create hand-built artisan electric vehicles, with attention to detail, quality materials, and with style – with soul. Whichever direction we go, this won’t change.
But did we want to start again and build another prototype from heavier, motor-vehicle approved parts in order to comply with legal requirements? If we passed in New Zealand, would we be guaranteed of passing in others? USA? Europe?
Other questions also emerged – especially after many hours of riding and commuting in all sorts of weather. Could we achieve better weather protection? Could we make cycle commuting more comfortable and even more enjoyable?
Researching the answers to those questions led to the next evolution of the V-Electric vehicle –
Introducing the Velopetta.
A micro-car style, electric-assisted pedal vehicle, legally classified as a bicycle in most countries around the world.
Micro-car history aficionado’s will immediately notice the resemblance of the Velopetta name with that of the infamous 1956 Brütsch Mopetta.
Only a total of 14 of these tiny vehicles were ever produced, and of these only 5 are known to still survive. This resemblance is no accident. The 50cc Mopetta is a major inspiration for the overall design of the Velopetta.
We have now begun to develop our first Velopetta prototype. What we hope to achieve with the Velopetta is:
No need for registration as moped, or a drivers licence
Light-weight enclosed body with windshield and soft-top
Electric-assisted pedal drive, with differential and disc brakes
4 wheels with 4″ wide fat-bike tyres for stability and comfort
Front and rear lights, indicators, brake lights and horn
Here is a photo of the v2 with most of the improvements in place. Under that you can see the original v1 for comparison. The designs may be different, but we’re still using the same handy beer crate supports 😉
Unfortunately the initial attempt to certify the scooter was not successful. Because the basic componentry is fundamentally from a bicycle, it is not rated for motor-vehicle use and, we were told, would never pass safety standards, even for a moped.
It would be too big of a job to modify the v2 to legal moped class. In order to comply we need to build another prototype from the ground up based on approved motor vehicle parts.
The prototype has been dubbed the “v1” (V-Electric #1).
The v1 was never intended to be the production scooter – it wasn’t even intended to look like the final product. It was simply an experiment in construction techniques, and a first attempt at a minimalistic scooter design.
The shape was penned as one continuous line, from fairing to seat, that could be made from a single standard sheet (2440mm) with no joins. A form was constructed from MDF (medium density fiberboard), and then several layers of different timber were glued and clamped around it to create the basic laminated shape.
All the electrics were housed in a single ‘battery box’ in stacked compartments. The box housed the battery, the controller, and even the battery charger. The box was topped by a simple hand-stitched leather and foam seat. A single socket in the back of the box allows a power cord to be attached for charging.
As a prototype, the v1 was very successful. It proved that the combination of materials worked and added an element of sophistication, that such a machine was practical and fun, and that there was still a lot more work to be done!
Range: 60km (@ 25 km/h)
Charge: 8hrs (@ $0.20 total)
Motor: 48v, 1000W hub
Battery: 48v, 20AH (960 WH)
Frame: Powdercoated steel (ex-step scooter)
Body: 4-layer lamination of birch ply with a bendy ply core
We are very proud to announce that V-Electric was the supreme winner of the 2012 Manawatu Innovate awards last night! The Innovate awards are an annual local business innovation competition where competitors spend 10 weeks refining their business plans before pitching to a panel of judges, dragon’s den style.