Eliica 8-wheel electric tears it up one wheel at a time

The Eliica ñ Eight Wheels of Stylish Power
The Eliica (ELectric Lithium-Ion CAr) is a battery electric vehicle prototype that first appeared in 2004 and is undergoing continual design and development by a student team at Tokyo's Keio University, lead by Professor Hiroshi Shimizu.
photo from Keio University

by Aaron Turpen

Specs:

  • Type: Electric
  • Class: 4-person Station Wagon
  • Manufacturer: Keio University
  • Propulsion system: All-Electric
  • Top Speed: 190 / 230mph
  • Vehicle range: 200 / 120 miles
  • Fuel(s): Electric
  • Battery system: Lithium-Ion
  • Time to full battery recharge: 10 hours

The manufacturer says

Years of research have shown that adopting new technologies to change the structure of electric vehicles enables us to drastically improve their performance and to enhance their comfort by greatly expanding the usable space compared to the overall size of the vehicle.

Overview

The Eliica (ELectric Lithium-Ion CAr) is a battery electric vehicle prototype that first appeared in 2004 and is undergoing continual design and development by a student team at Tokyo's Keio University, lead by Professor Hiroshi Shimizu.

The car's unique design, impressive features, and excellent performance are newsworthy in themselves, but the underlying technology is even more compelling. The car is being developed in both an Acceleration model (for street use) and a Speed model (for racing).

The Eliica weighs 2,400kg 95,300 pounds) at the curb and seats four (driver plus three passengers). It has eight wheels to hold it close to the ground while retaining traction and stability. The first model, built for possible future market release, called the Acceleration model, emphasizes its underlying tech on street-level performance with batteries, drive train, and other components geared towards everyday driving. The other model, the Speed model, aims towards breaking records and challenging gasoline-engine speed records, currently working towards a 400km/h speed record.

The eight wheel design allows the Eliica to be close to the ground for great traction, gives better steering capability with four tires turning, as well as better power. The power comes from the 60kW (80hp) motors, one in each of the eight wheels, giving it a total of 640hp while delivering smooth power and accleration without gear shifting. This also allows direct-return regenerative braking as well.

The Speed model's current top speed is 370km/h (230mph) and a 120 mile range per charge while the Acceleration model's specs are 190km/h (120mph) with a 200 mile range. Both cars are capable of 0-62mph in 4 seconds, which is close to the Tesla Roadster's speed.

So far, the University has spent $320,000 in development since 2005 while corporate sponsorships have been coming on board to finance the future development of the Eliisa. The underlying technology of the car has been licensed by the U of Keio to their development company called SIM-Drive for commercial licensing. A key investor in that progress are several manufacturers and car makers, who've put 680 million Yen in SIM-Drive so far.

What we like

The Unique Design of the Eliica is very compelling and unusual. Eight wheels on the ground are interesting, strong and definitely something that should be explored.

Excellent Development over time has shown that this design is definitely a possible future for electrics of all types. The car can be scaled to various sizes to fit more passengers, more cargo, or fewer, as needed.

Powerful and Practical, the Eliica shows that being electric doesn't have to mean being flashy, impractical, or slow. That's something the EV world needs to take note of if it plans to go beyond the niche market it's currently occupying.

What we don't

Unavailable, as are most of the good electrics. You can't buy an Eliica.

Likely to be Expensive if it does come to market. The design parameters of the Eliica mean that if it were for sale today, it would likely be as expensive as a Roadster (or even more so). That might change with time, as with all electrics, but for now it remains the most likely reason for EVs not hitting the main stream.

Conclusions

This car, which started as the 8-passenger Kaz limousine, has seen a lot of change and development, especially under the hood (as it were), since its inception. It's compelling, smart, and definitely a car future generations will look back on as being instrumental in the development of electrics.

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