Super-light car bags $5m fuel efficiency prize

September 17th, 2010 - 5:39 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Sep 17 (ANI): The main prize of a 10-million-dollar challenge to design a car capable of 100 miles per gallon (mpg) has gone to the makers of a futuristic-looking vehicle that weighs half as much as a Smart Car.

The contest, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize, was meant to spur the development of a new generation of super-efficient cars with mass-market potential. A Toyota Prius hybrid can get to about 51 mpg, but the main prize went to a design that opted for an internal combustion motor, rather than an electric engine.

The Edison2 Very Light Car Number 98, made by a Virginia company, took home 5m dollars for its use of lightweight materials and superior aerodynamics.

The car is powered by a single-cylinder motorcycle engine, which burns a mix of 85 pc ethanol and 15 pc gasoline, mounted at the back of an extremely lightweight frame. The designers, mainly former racing-car drivers, opted for an internal combustion engine rather than an electric car, because batteries add weight.

“Electric cars have real issues. Batteries are heavy, big and costly … cars get heavier, performance suffers and costs go up,” the Guardian quoted The Edison2 blog as saying.

The entire car, which some have likened to a helicopter or an egg on wheels, weighs 377kg (830lb). The Smart Car is about 726kg. The four-seater is entered via the window, like a racecar.

It has the basics: a top speed of 100mph, enough acceleration to cope with traffic, a heater and basic air conditioning, great fuel economy and, according to Edison2’s owner, a realistic price tag.

Oliver Kuttner, a race car driver, said it is made of low-cost and recylcable materials and could potentially go on sale for 20,000 dollars. (ANI)

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