Green Employer of the Week --Apr/20-26/13: LitMotors

Lit Motors C-1 PrototypeMore car than motorcycle, Lit Motors' C-1 2-wheeler, self-stabilizing prototype looks like a very promising personal vehicle, and Lit Motors is hiring a lot of engineers to go from prototype to manufacturing a production model.

Based in San Francisco, the company is currently looking for 10 additional employees, including 8 engineers in 8 different disciplines of car-making.

Lit Motors C-1 PrototypeWhile not as revolutionary as the Segway, the Lit Motors C-1 is more an evolutionary product, mixing motorcycle technology, auto technology with an electric propulsion system. Its gyro system allowing it to stand still on 2 wheels is probably its most interesting feature. But at an estimated retail price of $19,000 ($24,000 before government incentives) it might still have a hard time competing with the Nissan Leaf, Ford C-Max or Chevy Volt whose prices are going to drop quickly as acceptance and production levels rise.

It's not a car and it's not a motorcycle, so who is going to buy it? Motorcycle enthusiasts might regard it too much as a car, and car owners might find it too motorcycle-like and unsafe. Even with a body and air bags, being on 2 wheels at 60mph (top speed is 100mph) is still much more dangerous that being on 4 wheels.

Lit Motors logo

An interesting part of the company's story is the tenacity of its founder Danny Kim, and the fact that the company has arrived at an astonishing point without raising a significant amount of capital. Funding so far has been provided by family, friends and a few angel investors.

But the low-budget phase is over. The 10 new hires mean the company will have to raise a significant amount of capital before being in the black. These engineers are not cheap, and with fully loaded salaries and facility and tools to provide an efficient work environment, they'll amount to an annual cost of well above $1 million.

I wouldn't be surprised to see an announcement in the next few weeks or months that the company has joined the rank of the more than 200 VC-funded start-up companies in TheGreenJobBank's directory, and raised $10 million in venture capital.