Photograph by Ethan Scott

Studio Visit: Lit Motors' Daniel Kim Gives a Tour

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    Before we went into this we said, “Let’s try to not pull a Segway. Let’s not dump $40 million into a technology and realize that there’s no market for it.” So we built a simulated showroom. We had a very fake model built that looked like a real version, and we had about 50 people come in from our two specific target demographics: young, urban professionals and baby boomer motorcyclists.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    We had to hire a bicycle dynamicist and pair him up with another dynamicist who used to work on satellites.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    There’s a lot of magic that goes into a self-balancing, fully-enclosed, two-wheeled car. Our core technology is based around gyroscopes. Every kid’s favorite plaything is a top.

    I grew up in the ’80s, and I was inspired by Disney and Japanese animation. Now that I’m grown up, I’m doing all the things that I saw on TV. I’m doing the things my parents definitely told me not to do.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    In 2004, I took apart and rebuilt two Land Rover Defenders. I doubled their miles per gallon. I took almost 600 pounds out of the vehicle. I gave it a lower center of gravity. I gave it a higher ride height. I made it more off-road capable. What I did was exactly what they do in these huge factories, but I was doing it in a hipster manufacturing style. It’s physically so demanding. Try flipping over a 500-pound chassis by yourself.

    Photograph by Ethan Scott
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    About the Company
    Lit Motors is a San Francisco startup developing a two-wheeled electric vehicle called the C-1. It looks like a motorcycle wrapped in a candy shell and rides like a car. The C-1 aims to fill the commuter sweet spot between bicycle and automobile. Lit founder Daniel Kim, 34, says the vehicle is scheduled to begin production later this year.