It’s often said that electric powertrains will allow automotive designers to throw out many current design conventions. That’s certainly the case with this EV concept.
Created by Hoverboard inventor Shane Chen, the SHANE is a two-wheeled electric car with seating for five in a pod-like cabin sandwiched between giant wheels that “automatically react” to body motion to maintain stability, according to a press release describing the vehicle.
“Two-wheeled cars have simply not been practical or stable enough for everyday driving, until now,” Chen said in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with partners to bring this concept to life.”
Shane two-wheeled electric car concept
More of a trial balloon for potential funding than a production-ready idea, the concept can shift its center of gravity by sliding the cabin fore and aft relative to wheels. This counters the forces of acceleration and braking, keeping the car level and providing the same level of stability and safety as a four-wheeled vehicle, according to the release, without going into further detail.
The firm did provide a little more detail to Green Car Reports about how the system works. “There are two in-wheel motors, and also a very small one (like a backup motor) that helps shift the weight,” it explained. A spring-and-sensor system also helps the car stay parallel to the ground.
Potential benefits include two-speed wheel differential control that allows the SHANE concept to pivot in place like a tank, allowing it to drive sideways into parallel parking spaces. The giant wheels also house regenerative dampers, which harvest energy to help recharge the battery pack.
It’s a different approach than many three-wheeled cars have taken, like the solar-assisted Aptera, but it might potentially skirt conventional light-vehicle rules in the same way. Classification as something other than a conventional light-duty passenger vehicle would greatly simplify the process of getting such an unusual vehicle approved for sale.
Lit Motors nearly a decade ago tried using self-balancing physics in a different way—for an electric motorcycle. The SHANE, in contrast, as a full interior similar to conventional cars, with two seats in front and three in back.
And several automakers have suggested with concept cars that details like gyroscopic cupholders are on the way in production models, but they haven’t made it yet. But applying the same ideas to a full-size car are another matter entirely.