by Heather B. Hayes
For years, Oliver Kuttner and his team of engineers at Edison2 set their sights on building a practical, 100-miles-per-gallon vehicle in hopes of winning the Progressive Automotive X-Prize.
In September, Edison2’s Very Light Car achieved its goal, capturing the $5 million prize. The vehicle showed that aerodynamic design and a small suspension system combined with a high-performing, gasoline-powered engine could be more energy efficient than battery-heavy electric cars.
So now what? Kuttner, a real estate developer, says that he plans to revolutionize the auto industry. “Now comes the job of refining our design and implementing it to the point that it’s a practical, normal car,” he says. “That’s a big job.”
As he and his team gear up for years of additional research and development, Kuttner already is taking steps to expand.
Edison2 has secured a 157-acre industrial site (formerly owned by the Intermet Foundry) in Campbell County, which will initially provide more than double the space of the company’s current Lynchburg facility. Kuttner plans to expand to 41 full-time support employees during the next year, including fabricators and engineering assistants. To this point, the company has utilized 100 full- and part-time contractors, many of whom were (or still are) top engineers in the auto racing and aerospace industries.
Kuttner notes that his company is on a journey of refinement and product development that has consequences for today’s automotive world, and is establishing industry relationships to move forward in this new direction.
“There are companies that are in the business of building cars that understand that what we are doing is on the fringe, but who also believe that what we are doing will be the inevitable path [for their industry],” Kuttner says. “And so they are willing to invest to be part of the journey.”
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