Carver HistorySource: CarverAbout Carver Europe
Strategically located in the centre of Europe and headquartered in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, Carver Europe ('Carver') was founded in 2005 to co-ordinate the production, sales and service of the Carver One in Europe and the rest of the world. The global sales and service network is currently being rolled out. First distributors have been appointed and discussions with partners worldwide are underway.
The making of the Carver One…
It must have been late ‘80s, early 90's when Anton van den Brink wondered whether it really should take 2.5 tons of steel to transport just one person of, say, 100 kg. Instead of enjoying the splendours of Paris he was stuck in a hideous traffic jam, long before the larger European cities were considering congestion charges in an attempt to cut down on emissions arising from too many vehicles clogging the roads.
He was convinced that mobility could be made more efficient by moving that same person using only a fraction of the space and fuel consumption without giving in on comfort and safety. What he envisaged was a man-wide lightweight vehicle. Back in Holland he further developed the concept.
The first test prototype was an enclosed 'motorcycle' with a small frontal area to reduce fuel consumption. Just like a motorcycle it had two wheels and therefore needed two additional telescopic support wheels to provide stability when the vehicle was standing still. This first concept car, however, required special driving skills to say the least.
Obviously, for the vehicle to cater for the average car driver, it had to be modified. Stability at low speeds or at rest requires at least three wheels. In order to provide stability in corners as well, the body of the vehicle would have to be made to tilt. This should come as no surprise: banking is the only natural way to take corners. By bringing the centre of gravity towards the centre of the curve, just as airplanes, bikers and snowboarders do, stability would be guaranteed.
The real breakthrough came in 1994 with the development of the Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC™) concept by Anton's son Chris and his colleague Harry Kroonen, both aeronautical engineers at Brink Dynamics. Incidentally, Chris Van den Brink had been a fervent (professional) snowboarder and one of the pioneers of alpine snowboard development. The DVC™ system would automatically translate the 'car type steering' input into an optimal 'motorcycle type banking' of the chassis.
The first actual vehicle concept using the DVC™ system was realised in 1995. This narrow tilting three-wheeler proved to be more than the validation of the concept: it turned out to be extreme fun to drive! This aspect would also prove to be paramount to the vehicle's acceptance and ultimate success.
In the years that followed, successive versions of the vehicle concept were developed, fine-tuning the hydraulic tilting mechanism and the steering system. The Dutch police put the prototype to the test in 1997, and in the summer of that year it was officially approved for road use by the Dutch National Road Authority.
Having realised a roadworthy vehicle, the next step was then to optimise the driving dynamics to improve vehicle safety and control, and to enhance the driving experience. Not just the handling was scrutinised. Until then the vehicle's looks had been of secondary importance: a barely covered bar frame, highly functional but offering plenty of room for improvement. Johan Vissers, one of the engineers who had been involved in the development of the earlier prototypes, was commissioned to create an entirely new styling that would stand the test of time.
The 1999 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show premiered the design concept of what would become known as the Carver, nothing short of a revolution in automotive history.
The engineers at Brink Dynamics were not the only ones to have tried to overcome the problem of a narrow vehicle cornering without tipping over. Several established car manufacturers have made serious attempts to develop narrow (tilting) vehicles, but Brink Dynamics' engineers were the only ones to pull it off successfully and to produce a system that has made it to commercial production.
Indeed, with EU type certification granted in 2002, there was little left in the way of commercialisation. The first exclusive series of hand-made Carvers was manufactured in 2003. Receiving rave reviews from the press and industry watchers worldwide, these first Carvers sold out in record time and were shipped to various enthusiastic owners throughout the world.
Further road testing and validation by these first owners has resulted in the Carver One, which is now ready for larger scale commercialisation under the wings of Carver Europe.
Strategically located in the centre of Europe with head offices in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, Carver Europe ('Carver') was founded in 2005 to co-ordinate the sales and service of the Carver One in Europe and the rest of the world. The worldwide sales and service network is currently being rolled out. First distributors have been appointed and discussions with partners worldwide are underway.
Production of the first batch of a limited edition of 500 hand-crafted vehicles will start in May 2006; first deliveries to customers are scheduled for July 2006. For the production, Carver has teamed up with Prodrive, one of the world's leading motor sport and vehicle technology providers. True to its roots, however, the engineering facility remains located in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, where it al started 15 years ago.
History and milestones - chronological overview
Inspired by the ever-increasing congestion and pollution problems of modern traffic, Anton van den Brink, founder and director of the Eurotool Group of companies, launches an initiative to investigate the feasibility of realising a so-called slender comfort vehicle, i.e. a vehicle half the width and half the weight of a conventional car. Indeed, studies demonstrate that more than 90% of all cars are only occupied by one or two people.
An enthusiastic group of engineers teams up with Anton van den Brink and found Eco-Car BV.
Eco-Car develops a single passenger enclosed 'motorcycle' with controllable support wheels to balance the vehicle at slow speeds and to allow it to stop. This first prototype, however, requires considerable driving skills.
In December 1993, the prototype is demonstrated at the exhibition 'The Compact Car, History with a Future'. Market analysis indicates a large potential for narrow vehicles that could transport one or two people and that would not require special driving skills.
Eco-Car concludes that its prototype is an interesting concept but not a commercially or technically viable solution. Whilst for decades several serious attempts have been made by established companies to develop a man wide vehicle that automatically tilts in corners, patent investigations indicate that a truly user-friendly technology has not yet been developed. Based on a thorough review of known designs and technologies, the engineers are convinced that the lack of practical man wide vehicles is largely due to the lack of a reliable technology that would automatically ensure the balance of the vehicle in corners, provide comfort and safety at varying speeds and road conditions while requiring no special driving skills.
Chris Van den Brink and Harry Kroonen, aeronautical engineers at Brink Dynamics, one of the Eurotool companies, develop the Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC™) concept which would automatically translate the 'car type steering' input into an optimal 'motorcycle type banking' of the chassis. The concept is built into a first mechanical test model. 1995 International patents without limitations are granted on the DVC™ system.
The first vehicle concept using the DVC™ system is realised. This narrow tilting three-wheeler is the validation of the concept, and, not unimportantly, offers tremendous driving pleasure as a bonus. Several versions of the prototype are developed, fine-tuning the hydraulic tilting mechanism and the steering system.
The three-wheeled prototype is extensively tested by the Dutch police. In May, the prototype is approved for road use by the Dutch National Road Authority. In June, Brink Dynamics is awarded the prestigious Dutch Innovation Centre award (ID NL) 'Best invention of 1997'.
CNN World Report features the Brink Dynamics prototype and the future potential of narrow vehicles.
The driving dynamics of the prototype are further optimised to improve vehicle safety and control, and to enhance the driving experience. In collaboration with Johan Vissers, one of the engineers who had been involved in the early versions of the prototype, the vehicle is further developed and restyled into the Carver.
In September the Carver design concept is featured at the 1999 IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany.
2000 - 2002
The Carver design concept is further developed and validated. 2002 The Carver is granted EU type certification. Vandenbrink BV, sister company of Brink Dynamics, is established to manufacture and market the Carver.
24 exclusive Carvers are built by hand, 20 of which are sold worldwide (UK, Spain, Netherlands, UAE, ...) The Carver features in various renowned magazines and television programmes, amongst them BBC Top Gear.
2004 - 2005
Further road testing and validation results in a perfected version, the Carver One.
2005 - present Carver Europe GmbH, with head office in Zürich (CH), is founded to co-ordinate the worldwide sales and service of the Carver One. The engineering facilities remain located in Dordrecht (NL). From 1 February 2006, Carver Europe head offices - now Carver Europe BV - are relocated to Dordrecht, near Rotterdam. The global sales and service network is being rolled out and preparations for the production of the first batch of a limited edition of 500 hand-crafted vehicles for delivery in July 2006, are underway. The Carver One features in various international television programmes, including Discovery Channel and Beyond Tomorrow.