TROY — Altair ProductDesign today announced that it is partnering with Edison2 to assist in the design of the new Very Light Car 4.0, the next generation version of the innovative, light weight, fuel efficient vehicle entered in the Progressive Automotive XPrize in 2010.

The original Edison2 vehicle, an 850-pound car with a 250-cc one-cylinder internal combustion engine, won the $5 million prize for the Mainstream Class. A patented in-wheel suspension enables superior aerodynamics, simplified connection points, better structural load paths and a design that is lightweight using conventional materials.  It also allows a lightweight car to be safe, through a chassis that deflects on impact and an architecture that provides additional crushable space.

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The VLC 4.0 is an all-new vehicle that will achieve unmatched fuel economy results by retaining the same attributes of ultra-light weight and extremely low aerodynamic drag in a four-passenger vehicle.

During the program, Altair ProductDesign will conduct a three-phase engineering study targeting suspension sensitivity, vehicle impact strategy and structural optimization. To facilitate the vehicle’s development, Altair will provide computer-aided engineering optimization and crash-safety engineers, multi-body dynamics engineers, subject-matter experts and senior technical specialists. They will assist the Edison2 team in executing each of the study’s three phases and accelerating the development of the prototype for the VLC 4.0.

“Our engineers will focus on using optimization in the beginning of the design process to anticipate structural loading requirements with a minimum mass structure,” said Mike Heskitt, Chief Operating Officer of Altair ProductDesign. “We will be identifying the critical load paths in the design space, brainstorming concept design solutions and using detailed optimization to refine those solutions for a minimum mass footprint.”

Other aspects of Altair’s work with the Edison2 team will analyze ride and handling, steering sensitivity and noise-vibration-harshness.

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“Altair’s HyperWorks simulation suite will be used to validate Edison2’s novel suspension concept for the type of performance expected on a passenger car,” said Heskitt. “Multiple attributes will be optimized for the tradeoffs typically encountered in suspension design.”

In the XPrize competition, the Edison2 VLC set numerous records, including 110 mpg for the Mainstream Class vehicle, the lowest drag ever recorded at the GM Aero Lab for a multi-passenger car and the competition’s lowest greenhouse gases emissions at 82.6 g of carbon dioxide.

“Our mission remains to pursue an era of global automobile efficiency focused on lightweight, safe, yet performance-centric vehicles. Altair ProductDesign, with our other high-tech partners, is helping us get there through its proven systems engineering approach, expertise and technology gained in the automotive industry and beyond,” said Oliver Kuttner, CEO of Edison2. “We recognize the value that Altair’s simulation-driven design method has brought to companies worldwide. By partnering with Altair engineers very early on in the design phase, we expect to uncover new approaches to a successful design for our next- generation Very Light Car.”

Altair ProductDesign is a global, multi-disciplinary product development consultancy of more than 500 designers, engineers, scientists and creative thinkers. It is a subsidiary of Altair Engineering Inc., a developer of design optimization and simulation software with interests in green technologies.

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Edison2 is based in Lynchburg, Va. More at