3 Cars Win 100 MPG Race

On Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 8:25 AM, Scott’s Contracting <scottscontracting> wrote:

The Progressive X-prize highlights fuel efficient technology.
print send

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

The X-prize Foundation showcases and rewards cutting-edge innovations in fields that have the potential to benefit humanity.

The Automotive X-prize is for fuel efficiency. Sponsored by the Progressive insurance company and partially funded by the Department of Energy, it was given in three different vehicle classes. Regardless of the class, the cars had to be safe, "commercially viable" — meaning only that they had to perform more-or-less like a regular cars — and they had to get at least 100 miles per gallon or the equivalent.

MORE AT CNNMONEY.COM

The contest was launched in 2008. Beginning this summer, the 136 vehicles that entered — representing 111 teams from around the world — were winnowed down through a serious of tests. Besides fuel economy, cars were also tested for things like acceleration, braking, handling and maneuverability.

In the "Mainstream" class, which offered the biggest cash prize, vehicles were required to have four wheels, seat four people and have a driving range of at least 200 miles. In other words, they had to offer the bare basics of a typical car.

Edison2’s Very Light Car No. 98

Edison2's Very Light Car No. 98Edison2’s Very Light Car No. 98

Team from: Lynchburg, Va.
Class: Mainstream
Prize: $5 million
Fuel: E85 ethanol
Fuel economy: 102.5 MPG

Edison2, a team that fielded entries in all three classes, used a small internal combustion engine rather an electric motor or hybrid power. The car relied largely on its light weight — no heavy batteries — and its best-in-class aerodynamics to win the prize.

Li-ion Motors Corp.’s Wave II

Team from: Mooresville, N.C.
Class: Side-by-Side
Prize: $2.5 million
Fuel: Electricity
Fuel economy: 187 MPGe

Li-ion Motors Corp.'s Wave IILi-ion Motors Corp.’s Wave II

Vehicles in this category seated two people side-by-side, as the name implies. They also had to go at least 100 miles before needing to refuel or recharge.

The winner, in this case, drew on the advantage of electric motors: their much greater efficiency compared to internal combustion engines. Electric motors turn nearly all the energy fed into them into motion. Gasoline engines turn only about 30% of gasoline’s energy into motion while most ends up wasted as heat.

This car got 187 MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent. In other words, it can go 187 miles on same amount of energy as that contained in one gallon of gasoline.

This Wave II also minimized one big disadvantage of electric drive: weight. Gasoline contains much more energy per cubic foot than batteries, so electric car batteries end up being big and heavy compared to a tank of gasoline. In this case, the car itself, built largely from aluminum, is so light that it all adds up to only 2,176 pounds total. That’s less than a tiny Smart car.

Still, the Wave II takes almost 15 seconds to reach 60 miles an hour, good enough to win here but downright pokey by most standards.

X-Tracer Team Switzerland’s E-Tracer No. 79

X-Tracer Team Switzerland's E-Tracer No. 79X-Tracer Team Switzerland’s E-Tracer No. 79

Team from: Winterthur, Switzerland
Class: Tandem
Prize: $2.5 million
Fuel: Electricity
Fuel economy: 205.3 MPGe

Cars in the "tandem class" were two-seaters with the occupants sitting one behind the other. In this case, you might question the use of the word "car" since this vehicle looks an awful lot like a motorcycle. It does have four wheels, though. It’s just that two of them fold up and out of the way while driving, dropping down at low speeds to provide stability. It thus qualifies as a car under the X-prize rules.

Its bike-style body saves a lot of weight, which confers advantages in both efficiency and performance. In tests, this car got to sixty miles per hour in a relatively blistering 6.6 seconds.

About these ads

Leave a Reply-Scotty will respond asap

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s