Lux: A Single Passenger Electric Vehicle
Team update, Global Product Development | By Lara Mcconnaughey for Team Lux: Chris Callahan-Dudley, Derek Pan, Lara McConnaughey, Aaron Ong, and Hannah Reher.
The average commuter spends about 45 minutes to an hour of his or her working day in traffic. This traffic is caused by an increasing number of automotive vehicles on the road, yet many of these vehicles are only occupied by a single passenger — the driver. Recognizing that most cars inefficiently transport a single occupant over short distances, we hope to create a weather-proof, comfortable alternative to traditional vehicles and increase adoption of environmentally friendly electric vehicles by offering an affordable, entry-level option. Our vehicle, Lux, will be an inexpensive single passenger commuter electric vehicle.
Our team derives its name from UC Berkeley’s motto “Fiat Lux”, which is Latin for “Let there be light.” The Lux team, consisting of both undergraduate and graduate Berkeley students, came together in the Global Product Development course taught at Berkeley’s Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation. The founding members of Team Lux, Chris Callahan-Dudley (Mechanical Engineering M.S.) and Derek Pan (Mechanical Engineering B.S.), brought the technological foundation of the car from the UC Berkeley Super Mileage Vehicle team, and Lara McConnaughey (Computer Science M.S.), Aaron Ong (Mechanical Engineering M.S.), and Hannah Reher (Mechanical Engineering B.S.) partnered with the team in December.
From Early Stages to Present Prototype
Lux has been in development for two years since it began as a competition vehicle team project for the Shell Eco-Marathon. The goal of the competition is to produce a maximally efficient prototype of a (nearly) street-legal, single-passenger vehicle. At present, the first iteration of Lux’s full-scale chassis and body is complete and will be used in the 2019 competition. Lux’s control and locomotive systems are currently in an initial-design iteration, and we are in the process of installing the present prototype of the car’s safety systems (e.g. lighting, seat belt, braking system).
Inspired by the Global Product Development course, Team Lux is planning to introduce a more human-oriented design into the car for potential marketability as a single-passenger, all-electric commuter vehicle. Ergonomics, modularity, standardized components, and regulatory compliance are key factors to such a design. Our GPD course lectures, guest appearances from industry, and other Jacobs resources have helped our team assess the potential market-reach of our idea as we work towards a Minimum Viable Product.
Lessons from Hong Kong
As part of the GPD class, Team Lux was fortunate enough to travel to Hong Kong to learn from industry experts about manufacturing, design, and packaging in one of the world’s largest technology hubs!
Following this trip, our team realized we need to ensure our engineering designs align with our marketing pitch. We also realized the importance of considering the market we are appealing to. For example, Hong Kong may have fascinating technology resources for us to explore but the city’s great public transportation may not provide the ideal consumer market for our vehicle. We aim to understand on both local and global levels where the Bay Area market-need is paralleled in order to accurately estimate the viability of our product.
Next Steps for Lux
While in Hong Kong we were also lucky enough to hear from charismatic tech-company founders Bay McLaughlin, CTO of a hands-on hardware accelerator, Eu-wen Ding, CEO of Lumos Helmets (a product featured in the Apple store) and Michelle Fno, CEO of Aromeo. They revealed that many investors are interested in potential products at every stage of development — therefore, the early stage of our development is no excuse for not keeping our goals and progress cohesive, ready to present at all times. We’ve learned that constantly envisioning our “next steps” will help us pitch confidently what we need in order to get there. In addition, developing multiple pitches for different audiences could be useful to spread our message to both investors and potential customers. We developed these business pitches, as well as the packaging for our product, in the final weeks of the class.
Follow along with Team Lux and their Global Product Development classmates as they continue to develop their projects, drawing from expert insights, a field trip to Hong Kong, and more along the way. Over the course of the semester, we’re sharing blog posts from each student team here on Medium. In the meantime, learn more about the course here.