The Ford Gyron concept – a closed-cockpit, two-wheeled gyrocar study first unveiled to the world more than five decades ago in 1961 – is back, in a way. Although the Ford Gyron never made it to production, and perhaps rarely comes up in the course of routine conversation, the unusual concept car has inspired Chinese engineer Zhu Lingyun to create a self-balancing gyrocar of his own. Armed with 3-million yuan (about $470k US) in angel investments, he started Beijing Lingyun Intelligent Technology Co. in 2014 with three other employees.
Today, the company is valued at about $60 million, he says.
Beijing Lingyun’s latest prototype is something Bloomberg calls “a mashup of motorcycle, electric car and space capsule, wrapped around the brain of a smartphone.” As the label “gyrocar” implies, it keeps its balance by using gyroscopes, and Lingyun believes it could represent “the future of urban transportation because it is exquisite, energy-saving and easy to manage.”
“I have to make it,” he told Bloomberg.
The Chinese-designed gyrocar measures about ten feet long by three-and-a-third feet wide, and can reach speeds of up to 100 kmph (62 mph). It has no accelerator or steering wheel; instead, the car can operate autonomously without driver input, or accept input from a computer mouse, facilitated by a 24-inch screen. In that way, it’s quite different from the Ford Gyron concept of 1961, although both are alike in their use of an electric motor for propulsion. The Beijing Lingyun vehicle has a range of about 100 km (62 miles).
That said, there is another prototype of the Chinese gyrocar that does have a steering wheel, which will more than likely reach production first – assuming Beijing Lingyun can find a suitable location for production. Domestic sales could start as soon as 2020, with each one-seater likely costing less than 100,000 yuan ($16,000), if the company is able to produce between 5k and 10k units annually.
Click here to see the Beijing Lingyun gyrocar over at Bloomberg.com.