The History of Nova Cruz Voloci
They say its an electric motorbike - "We don't like the word moped" said Pearson, that might be a little oversimplified in description. It has a shiny body made from the same aluminum as an aircraft, Has suspension that's the technological cousin of the one used in formula one race cars and a brushless motor that is barely audible even as the bike carries a passenger uphill.
"The concept was simple. We wanted something that was useful, stylish and for people who travel 20 miles or less for commuting" said Pearson.
-Ulrich says the Voloci is intended for urban transportation, two-thirds of the world relies on modes of transportation on the scale of the electric motorbike
I have been doing a ton of Googling trying to find all relevant information pertaining to this bike and its founders, below is what I have come up with so far
About Nova Cruz Products LLC
Nova Cruz Products, Inc. is a joint venture among Technique Applied Science, Lunar Design, and Cheskin Research - three award-winning consulting firms specializing in different aspects of new product development. Nova Cruz engineers have deep experience designing high-performance vehicles, including race cars, bicycles, wheel chairs, motorcycles, and solar-electric vehicles. After many years of designing products for leading companies, the partner firms have pooled their resources to create their own brands and products. Karl Ulrich, the company's Chairman, took a leave of absence from the faculty of The Wharton School of Business to found Nova Cruz in order to create practical, fun personal transportation products.
About the Voloci
-It's called the Voloci pronounced vo-lo-chee. In Italian it mean fast flying
-The Voloci runs entirely on rechargeable batteries
-It is emission free
-The Voloci runs on a 18-inch long battery pack that weighs less that 20lbs
-Without the battery the entire motorbike weighs only 59lbs "its like a heavy bike" said Ulrich
-The Voloci can be packed up and carried from place to place or inside a RV or boat with no fuel leaking
-30 mph top speed (accelerated to 20mph in just 5 seconds)
-DOT legal "motor driven cycle"
-Features a brushless motor that carries an adult rider up a 25-percent grade
-SLA version retailed for $1995
-NIMH version retailed for $2495
-Manufactured and sold by Nova Cruz Products, Inc. during the period 2001-2003
-Several hundred vehicles were sold (if anyone knows the actual number please contact me)
-Manual says to inflate tires to 73 PSI for maximum range!
The business portion of Nova Cruz Voloci
-Recruit a new electric vehicle, "The Voloci", manufacturing facility to the territory, along with quality jobs
-$325,000 Loan to Nova Cruz to establish a manufacturing facility in Scranton, PA for an electric 50cc motorbike (subordinated debt with royalty payback).
-$325,000 Equity to Nova Cruz (preferred shares)
- $75,000 to Hershey Park (a joint venture with PA Dept of EP), to purchase a 10kw wind turbine, 2kw solar photovoltaic, and one or two "Voloci" 50cc motorbikes for installation at the park for educational/informational purpose.
-$125,000 loan to Nova Cruz LLC with royalty payback and warrants for dealer development of electric vehicle.
-The region has had bad experience with other manufacturers of electric-powered mobility devices. In 2002, Nova Cruz Products, manufacturers of the Voloci electric bike, opened a 18,000 square-foot facility in Scranton, PA with the promise of employing 335 people by 2004. The company folded a year later. Italian company Oxygen World Inc. took over the assets and moved to Throop for a short time, then pulled out.
-We have been very active in Scranton, PA. Last year we reported on our success in recruiting and relocation an emerging electric vehicle company, Nova Cruz LLC, from New Hampshire to Scranton. Unfortunately, the company's new product did not achieve the market acceptance hoped for and the company discontinued operations. SEF was the largest secured creditor with fiduciary responsibility of recovering funds on behalf of all creditors and shareholders.
-During the subject period, one of our portfolio companies failed. Nova Cruz LLC was unsuccessful in introducing its "Voloci" electric vehicle to market. The company did request additional funding from us, but out due diligence indicated that additional funds from us would not be adequate to stabilize the company. The company chose to discontinue operations; see note of auditors. Appendix B for financial details.
Although we realize that electric vehicle introductions are difficult, we nonetheless were disappointed with the failure of the Voloci product. As Nova Cruz's principal creditor, SEF became responsible for the sale of the assets on behalf of all creditors and shareholders. This activity gave is the opportunity to recruit two new firms to Scranton to continue Nova Cruz's objectives. Oxygen, SPA, a leading Italian developer of electric vehicles, chose Scranton as its North American headquarters. In addition, Xootr LLC formed and located in Scranton to purchase a portion of Nova Cruz company assets and continue the non-electric operations. We successfully completed the same of assets to best satisfy our fiduciary responsibilities and believe that our mission objectives remain intact.
The design portion of Nova Cruz Voloci
Leading mainstream 3D CAD vendor's sub-assembly capabilities lead to reduced design time so Nova Cruz can build prototypes in hours rather than weeks
Nova Cruz Products Inc. burned rubber in the personal transportation market with its recently unveiled Voloci, a whisper-quiet electric motorbike designed lightning fast in SolidWorks(R) three-dimensional computer-aided design software, SolidWorks announced today. SolidWorks enabled Nova Cruz to design parts and sub-assemblies in hours instead of weeks so it could get the super light motorbike to market much faster than if it had used other 3D CAD products.
Getting innovative products to market first is crucial for smaller manufacturing companies like Nova Cruz that are trying to spark a trend. SolidWorks quick design time originally helped the company get the Xootr scooter to market quickly and set the standard for nimble electric scooters. It also helped Nova Cruz's engineers design the Voloci's parts fast enough to have a working prototype in a matter of hours, rather than nearly 12 weeks with other 3D CAD software.
"We had a tight time frame. We wanted to set the bar for high-performance electric motorbikes that have a long range, are light, and can hit 30 mph, so we needed to get it to market fast," said Nathan Ulrich, Nova Cruz's chief technical officer and co-founder. "SolidWorks' Windows environment and powerful sub-assembly capabilities were integral to helping us quickly develop prototypes that we could test and tweak. That functionality coupled with the ability to transfer SolidWorks designs into a program that automatically machines the parts helped us produce a finished product in a shorter time than if we'd used other CAD packages."
N.H.-based Nova Cruz first made a splash in Jan. of 2000 when it launched the award-winning line of Xootr kickscooters. The company again turned to SolidWorks when it set out to apply the same concept to a motorized bike and change how the public and the industry view electric vehicles. Rather than the clunky, heavy electric bikes on the market that can only go 18 mph, the Voloci (unveiled in January of this year) weighs less than 80 pounds, is easy to carry, and reaches top speeds of 30 mph. Urban professionals looking for an affordable, convenient means of transportation, kids traveling in suburban neighborhoods, and even police officers and park personnel represent some of the Voloci's target audience.
Nova Cruz took advantage of the extensive SolidWorks Solution Partner Program (the largest in the industry with more than 400 products) to streamline production. It uses Gibbs and Associates' GibbsCAM, a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) partner product for machining parts based on SolidWorks designs. The two technologies help companies accelerate both design and manufacturing. Nova Cruz also used Structural Research and Analysis Corporation's COSMOS/Works to perform structural analysis on various parts of the bike.
"Voloci is the next Nova Cruz product to provide a fun, efficient, and environmentally friendly way to commute and play," said Dave Corcoran, executive vice president of research and development at SolidWorks. "To set that standard, the company had to be first to market with its design innovations. SolidWorks and its partner products gave Nova Cruz's engineers the platform it needed to quickly build the bike's parts and sub-assemblies, test them, and assemble the entire finished product in record time so they could get the bike into consumers' hands before anyone else. SolidWorks has set the standard for providing engineers the design functionality they need in tight timeframes."
Prototype test ride review
Ken Trough of V is for Voltage recently got to test the prototype of the Voloci. I thought you might be interested in what he had to say.
Hey campers! I got to do a detailed investigation and ride of one of the very very few prototypes of the Voloci this past weekend. I met with Dan Ferguson, the west coast sales guru for Nova Cruz, in his backyard of Portland, Oregon. He brought one of the very few (2?) prototypes that exist right now and I went riding along the water on a beautiful sunny day. This prototype was not a finished production unit, and had some limitations. First of all, it only has about 70%-75% of the power, speed, and acceleration of the production units. Also, the lights and fuel gauge were not hooked up. This means that I cannot yet detail my impressions on the power and speed side, but I sure as heck can tell you all about the scooter and the ride itself.
First of all, looking at the Voloci on the web, I imagined it to be bigger. Something along the lines of an electric motorcycle. Several other people have remarked on the fact that this cycle will be perceived as a motorcycle (creating problems for those riding in parks or on sidewalks). I am VERY pleased to report that nothing can be further from the truth. It is smaller in person. In fact, it is noticeably smaller than most mountain bikes. Think of an oversized electric BMX bike with suspension and you won't be far off. No one will mistake this cycle for a motorcycle. In fact, most people will see it as a bicycle. I watched a couple of people come up to the Voloci, scrutinize it for several minutes, THEN realize that it doesn't have pedals. This is an example of people seeing what they expect to see. Since it looks like a bike, people's minds will register it as a bike as you ride by. The quiet ride will reinforce this perception. Owners will have no problems riding this cycle anywhere bicycles are accepted.
A Portland bicycle cop stopped and took a long hard look at it, and pronounced it very cool, stating that he wanted to get one himself, and that law enforcement agencies should consider it as a platform for bicycle cops, as it will go faster than a bicycle, has lots of range, and delivers the officer to his destination fully rested and ready for action. He really liked the super simple quick release battery pack, pointing out that this feature is the critical factor for a quick turnaround fleet vehicle.
This is the ideal platform for a rental fleet for the same reason. The double range battery pack would keep anyone entertained for an hour's rental (even at full speed), and a quick change with a fresh pack sends the scooter right back out the door with the next renter. Think campus vehicle for security, resorts, and colleges. The disc brakes make for solid stopping power under any conditions, with no wear on the rims.
Really, the only maintenance on this scooter besides charging the batteries is cleaning and oiling the chain. Everything looks strong and substantial. Durability should be excellent. The suspended chassis should also reduce failures substantially, due to reduced shock and vibration on the motor, controller and battery pack.
Now on to the juicy stuff... the ride itself.
I was really impressed with the overall ride and handling of the Voloci. Anyone who is not intimidated by a bicycle will have no problems with this cycle. The front and rear suspension really ate up the bumps. The suspension preload is adjustable, which is good news for heavier riders like myself. I was told that this cycle can handle a drop of four feet with a rider onboard. There was a nice 3 and a half foot jump on hand, and we were sorely tempted to try it, but given that this was one of the only Voloci cycles out there right now, we decided not to do this kind of abuse test yet. I did ride both on asphalt and in the dirt, and it handled both with no troubles. It was really gratifying to have the power of an electric cycle combined with the feel of a mountain bike. It was like having a super light trials bike or something. Really nice. Everyone that rides this thing is going to love it, I think.
The removable battery is super simple to install and remove. This means that commuters will be able to lock the Voloci up in any bike rack and take the battery pack into the office (or coffee shop, or apartment) for easy charging. It is important to note that the pictures on the web show the cycle with a single NiMH pack installed. The lead acid setup is similar and will fit into the same space in the chassis as the NiMH, though will not be removable. The double range NiMH pack is reported to "stick out" from the frame, filling the space under the seat. As neither Dan nor myself have seen this pack however, this is somewhat speculative at this time. If there is a downside to the design, it's that the controller is integrated into the motor, and is therefore going to be difficult to tweak for more speed. That said, I fully expect SOMEONE out there to successfully tweak it anyway, just not the average user.
The word is that production is starting at the beginning of April (mere days away), and Nova Cruz is on track to deliver the first 100 units in the first month.
I predict that this is going to be a HUGE HIT for Nova Cruz. The quality is obvious, the price is right, and the speed, versatility and range are going to be just great for a whole lot of users. This is a winner, and one of the best personal electric vehicles offered to date by anyone, anywhere.
Scooters and mopeds are widely used in Europe and in the developing world for zipping around town. Problem is the 50 cc two stroke engines on these bikes spew pollutants at a rate far higher than a modern automobile and the engines are noisy and cantankerous.
There is a new electric vehicle out there called the Voloci, manufactured by Nova Cruz Products in Dover New Hampshire, which takes aim squarely at this scooter/moped market for quick trips around town and short commutes.
I visited the Nova Cruz factory in New Hampshire and got a chance to ride the Voloci. The seat is so low to the ground and the bike is so light that it was not any more intimidating than a bicycle to ride. There are dual mirrors, turn signals and lighting making the vehicle completely street legal. The controls are a lot like a motorcycle but there is no shifting and no clutch.
To get going you just twist the throttle. The 1600 watt motor makes slight whine and the performance is surprisingly sprightly probably due to the light weight. I could definitely appreciate the suspension, front and rear, on the rutted roads I was traveling. I'd estimate that I was easily going about 25 miles per hour, but there was no speedometer. It is doubtful that you'll have to worry about getting pulled over by the police on this. With the heavy-duty suspension, the company is even offering tires that would allow the bike to be taken off road. The front and rear disk brakes made for easy stopping and should be reliable in the rain.
After riding around on the roads near Nova Cruz's factory for a while, I came to the conclusion that this comfortable, practical, speedy vehicle was also a lot of fun.
Clean electric technology means you don't have to worry about the gasoline fumes or noise. The other sweet thing about the Voloci is its light weight. Remove the 20 pound NiMH battery pack and you've got a bike that weighs only 59 pounds and can be stored in your urban apartment or lifted into your sailboat. The brushless electric motor means the Voloci should be long lived and relatively low maintenance, especially when compared to traditional mopeds and scooters.
Because it looks like a cross between a mountain bike and a moped you feel quite comfortable cruising around town. Licensing for the Voloci is very similar to that for a moped in most states, meaning very minimal requirements if any at all.
With electric vehicles there is always concern about range. Will it have enough range to be practical? The answer with the Voloci as compared to other electric scooters is probably yes. The Voloci has a range of 25 miles and a top speed of 30 miles per hour. If you keep the throttle floored the whole time the range might drop to 15 miles, but with a little effort you can easily manage the power to go at least 20 miles before needing a recharge. That's 10 trips to the grocery store or one very long commute to work.
In addition, Voloci can supply a dual battery pack so you can switch to the second battery when you run out of juice, effectively doubling the range to 40 to 50 miles. And the NiMH battery can be recharged in only 3 hours so you can plug in while you are at work or maybe even while you are sipping a cup of coffee at the local cafe. The NiMH battery is expected to have 700 recharge cycles before needing replacement. The Voloci is offered with an option of both a sealed lead acid and a NiMH battery pack.
I think that you are missing the point if you don't spend the few extra bucks to get the latest technology in the NiMH battery. It costs about $500 more but it weighs a lot less and has 700 recharge cycles versus 500 for the lead acid unit. In addition the lead acid battery is not removable which limits the recharging flexibility. Buying the lightweight Voloci with the lead acid battery would be like buying the latest miniature cell phone with an old clunky battery.
One of the problems I always have when commuting into Boston is that when I get to the train station, every parking space has been taken. With the Voloci I could go right to the front of the lot and park at the bike rack. The folks at Voloci can hook you up with a heavy duty Kryptonite lock to secure both the battery and the bike.
I met with Nathan Ulrich, the company's Chief Technical Officer who has a PhD. in mechanical engineering and an interest in alternative transportation technologies and with Naomi Cromwell, Nova Cruz's director of marketing. Naomi told me that Voloci is properly pronounced vo-LO-chee with an Italian accent. Volo is Italian for flight and Veloci is Italian for speed so this is a bike that moves at flight speed, especially when compared to other electric scooters.
Nathan has been in the two wheeled vehicle business since designing the Xootr (pronounced "Zooter") unpowered scooter which was a high quality alternative to the Razor scooter. At the high point of the scooter craze, Nova Cruz was shipping 1500 of the scooters a week. Nathan hopes to duplicate this success with the Voloci.
The closest competitor to this product might be something like the Lepton scooter offered by Zapworld. That scooter has a much higher weight at 233 pounds and costs about $1000 more for similar range and performance. But with the Voloci you can carry a spare battery if you need to double the range, an option not offered with the Lepton.
According to Nathan, the electric scooter market is currently screwed up with a lot of low quality products being dumped onto the market, effectively turning the product into a kid's toy. Nova Cruz is aiming at the high end of the market with products that have the "best quality and best performance." The Voloci is a bike that has tremendous utility for personal mobility compared to other scooters on the market. Its 1600 watt motor has four times the power of most electric scooters and there are no products which offer as great a combination of range and speed.
Nathan referred me to the Pertrans.com website with has a variety of articles on a new approach to personal mobility and is edited by his brother Karl Ulrich, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nova Cruz has two vans on the road all the time on the West and East Coast trying to build a dealer network. Many dealers have placed orders sight unseen for the product based on the company's reputation with the Xootr product.
Ironically Nova Cruz is located in the same state and not far from Dean Kamen's Segway company. Nathan said that he is actually good friends with the folks at Segway and does not consider them a competitor since the Voloci is not designed to be ridden on the sidewalk, and the Segway can't go 30 miles per hour. Nathan said that the Segway has actually helped the market because with a current selling price of $8000, the Segway has changed people's perception of the price point for personal mobility.
The bike is priced at between $1995 and $2495, depending on the battery option chosen. Voloci starts to ship their bikes this month, May 2002, and dealers can be located at Voloci.com or contact the factory directly at:
Nova Cruz Products, Inc.
55 Industrial Park Drive
Dover, NH 03820 USA
Re-flashing the corrupted controller
The Voloci electric motorbike was made and sold by Nova Cruz Products Inc. during the period 2001-2003. It was too far ahead of its time and production soon ceased, but there are quite a lot of them out there. Unfortunately, the firmware had a bug and could get corrupted and a lot of these bikes did not get the very last update that fixed this. Kanda have just been working with one such guy to help him resurrect his machine.
There are various suggestions about how to update the bike’s firmware on the web, but they all miss some crucial details. The main code file is available but the fix also involves writing data to the separate EEPROM data memory and this is what is missing from the online descriptions.
The two files needed for the latest version, rev312, can be downloaded below as a zip file. It contains a Main.hex file for the flash (code) memory and a second data file for the EEPROM, main.eep. The Main.hex file is the same as the binary file available elsewhere (voloci_firmware_rev312.bin) except stored in a different format.
The final mistake made is to assume that the 8535 AVR microcontroller in the bike is an ATmega8535, but it is the early (now obsolete) AT90S8535 which programs differently.
Ok, you now can download the files required below and know what AVR microcontroller it is, but how do you get this code into the Voloci electric motorbike? For this you need an AVR In System Programmer or AVR ISP, but a lot don’t support AT90S8535 any more. Our Kanda AVR ISP range still supports this AVR microcontroller, so I’ll suggest you use one of these but other AVR ISPs may do the job.
If you are entirely ignorant about downloading code to microcontrollers and don’t want to get involved, we can preload our keyfob programmer with the correct files and settings and send it. Then you just need to disconnect the Hall sensor connector and the phase wires, power up the bike, plug in the keyfob and press the single button, job done! There is a link below to our AVR keyfob and you can contact Kanda support to load the correct files before shipping.
If you feel you can cope with a programmer, it is quite straightforward. Plug in the USB AVR ISP to the PC and let Windows auto-detect it. Now on the motorbike, disconnect the Hall sensor and phase wires, plug the ISP lead in to the 10-way connector and power up bike. Run the AVRISP-U software and it should automatically detect an AT90S8515 and set the software for this device. Now follow these simple instructions,
Go to File menu > Load Flash and select Main.hex
Go to File menu > Load EEPROM and select main.eep
Go to Device menu > Auto Program Options and select Erase Device, Program Flash Memory, Flash Verification, Program EEPROM Memory and EEPROM Verification
Finally select Device menu > Auto Program or press F5 key
Your Voloci motor bike should now run perfectly.