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The Almighty Buck Hardware

X Prize For a 100-MPG Car 741

Posted by kdawson
from the batteries-not-included dept.
Heinen writes in about the X Prize Foundation, which spurred innovation by offering US $10 million for the first privately built spacecraft. The Foundation now plans to offer millions for the first practical car that increases mileage five-fold. The specs for the competition are out in draft form amd call for cars in two categories that are capable of 100 MPG in tests to be run in 2009. The categories are: 4-passenger/4-wheel; and 2-passenger/unspecified wheels. The cars must be manufacturable, not "science projects. The prize is expected to top $10 million. The X Prize Foundation says that so far it has received more than 1,000 inquiries from possible competitors.
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X Prize For a 100-MPG Car

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  • Key concepts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:10AM (#18582919) Homepage
    It's possible to make cars that are 'manufacturable' that meet this, the real problem will be making cars that are manufacturable... AND sellable.

    Is there a market for super efficient cars that look like tampons with wheels?
    • by clem (5683) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:18AM (#18582975) Homepage
      Is there a market for super efficient cars that look like tampons with wheels?

      I suppose if you drove through a lot of tunnels it might be of interest.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Opportunist (166417)
        Only to Mr. Freud.
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:21AM (#18582991)
      There are a few things that probably need to change to make this work. First off, there's a macho intertwining of cars with manhood, power etc. Many cars can easily beat a Prius hybrid on fuel economy, but not high performance cars.

      To get good fuel economy probably needs a mindshift away from SUVs and Hummers towards smaller 1300cc or smaller cars.

      The "look" of cars is pretty much fashion driven, dictated by the car manufacturers to promote consumption. This year it's round headlights, next year square; boxy Hummer look one year, curved Porche look the next; big grill, then small.

      Car manufacturers keep advertising more power, size etc (10% more power than last year's model, 5% more space...). How is it that they never advertise reduced consumption (well they might, but only if it does not compromise power, size etc)..

      People really need to see cars as transport. Perhaps then they will start to think in terms of efficiency etc.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        People really need to see cars as transport. Perhaps then they will start to think in terms of efficiency etc.

        The kind of car that can get 100 mpg is going to be:
        1. light = unsafe unless made of expensive materials
        2. fuel efficient = excessively low acceleration and/or low top speed
        3. aerodynamic = low to the ground = drives don't see you

        I'd trust my life to a tiny, low slung car if it had a rollcage.
        Otherwise it's a death trap.
        Crumple zones anyone?

        • Light != dangerous (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:57AM (#18583273)
          Light cars are not necessarily dangerous. They get to be dangerous if smug dickheads in Hummers think they are safe so they don't pay attention and squish smaller cars or people driving them are silly. Get the Hummers off the road.

          Why do you need huge acceleration and top speed? You're using your car for transport, not racing. There's no need for a car that goes more than 70mph. There's no need for a car that burns rubber.

          I use a very old technology 1300cc car (probably equivalent in power to a more modern 1000 cc engine car). It has sufficient guts for my purposes, even when carrying 4 people + a load.

          • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @01:20AM (#18583425) Homepage Journal
            There's no need for a car that goes more than 70mph.

            Regardless of what those pretty signs say on the side of the road, there are lots of places where the prevailing speeds are significantly higher than 70MPH.

            And out in those big, flat states (you know, the ones that the pretentious Manhattanites like to call 'flyover states') there are lots of sections of highway where the posted limit is 75 and I suspect most traffic moves upwards of 80.

            More generally, you're engaging in what I call the "burlap sack" argument. I could take the same line of thinking that you're going down, and apply it to clothing instead of cars, and come to the conclusion that everyone should stop putting on all these fancy geegaws and just dress in good old burlap sacks, because really, you're just buying a little warmth and weather-resistance. Spray some water repellent on that, and you're good to go.

            Cars are as much about 'transportation' as clothes are about staying warm; sure, that's one reason why they exist, but once you've got that function checked off, that's when the real differentiation starts.
            • by tapehands (943962) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @03:04AM (#18584023)
              You'd be correct with the whole "burlap sack" argument except for one thing - it's not illegal (well..obviously within reason) to dress however you wish. If you want to wear nipple pasties, then so be it.

              It is illegal to speed. That in and of itself isn't news to anyone...we've been getting speeding tickets for years.

              There is something you need to consider, though. The highest speed limit I've ever heard of in the USA is 75mph. You know that car manufacturers know this. You also can safely assume that the speed limit isn't going to increase any time soon, due to a multitude of safety and environmental reasons. Why, then, do car manufacturers deem it necessary to make it so that every car they produce can AT LEAST hit 90mph, if not more?

              For example...I've got what I would consider an econobox ('04 Hyundai Elantra hatchback with a manual transmission) - it's a cheap car that gets me from point A to point B with relatively good gas mileage. Why would I want to go fast in this car? How fast could I go if I did want to go fast?
              The answer to the first question is because I love the feeling of going fast. It's a huge rush when I can accelerate quickly, and I can maintain a high speed.
              For the second question? My little econobox can hit about 123mph.

              There's no need for this to be the standard in cars distributed to the general public. If the car manufacturers want to make cars that go over 100mph, keep it to the realm of muscle cars that manage to get 15mpg. I'd much rather have an econobox that has a top speed of 80mph (just so I can accelerate around the people not actually driving the speed limit), gets 100mpg, and is relatively cheap to purchase and maintain. And if that becomes the standard from all manufacturers, as opposed to the beefy cars we have, then people will just have to deal with it, or pay the extra money for a car with some kick - which is completely fine by me.
              • by Shihar (153932) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @08:05AM (#18585801)
                The reason why cars can go faster then 65 is because people like me wouldn't buy one that can't. The simple fact is that the government fucking sucks at regulating the roads. They have not changed the speed limit in decades, yet cars today are significantly safer beasts then they were when the 65 MPH rule was put in place. No one wants to touch the speed limits. Federal government doesn't want to change the speed limits because they are incompetent. State officials don't want to change them because they fund the police force via speeding tickets. The net result is that you have a stupid government regulation that won't die.

                Despite what the government says, the speed limit on Mass Pike is NOT 65 MPH unless you want to get rear-ended. It is more like 85. The speed limit on rt 88 in upstate New York is indeed 65, but only because the local cops line this flat, straight, and empty highway nabbing anyone doing more then 5 over in an effort to fund their local station. The speed limit on the Kennedy in Chicago is well, it is always like 5 MPH regardless of what the government says. I hate that god damn slow moving parking lot.

                My point is this. If you tried to sell me a car that can't break 65 or 75, I (and most other Americans who don't live in a city) wouldn't buy it. Most Americans regularly ignore the post speed limits that seem to all magically top at 65 regardless of the actual circumstances of the road. Thankfully, car companies make cars to satisfy real needs, unlike the government which doesn't need to change its attitude until there people are suddenly getting elected on the single issue of speed limits, which even for American voters is a pretty unlikely act of stupidity.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by GooberToo (74388)
                  State officials don't want to change them because they fund the police force via speeding tickets.

                  Not so. Maybe a decade ago several states tried to raise their speed limits. The Federal government came back and said lower your speed limits or you lose federal highway dollars. The states complied. In other words, many states are more than happy to raise the legal speed limit but Washington has made it clear that the states have no say if they want to continue to receive federal highway dollars.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by bflong (107195)
                    But the local governments *do* have the option of simply not enforcing them. When I drove though Ohio a couple weeks ago, and saw a officer on the side of the road every 15 miles or so, it made it very clear to me that the state government was being propped up by traffic fines.

                    This situation, by the way, makes me sick. Police officers should not be saddled with the burden of collecting money for the state. They should be out doing real police work, the whole 'serve and protect' thing. I seriously doubt that
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by jdray (645332)

                  ...cars today are significantly safer beasts then they were when the 65 MPH rule was put in place.

                  If you come down off your soapbox for a minute and take a breath, you might be able to use the time to consider that, while cars have gotten safer, drivers certainly haven't. It's more likely that, because cars have gotten safer and more comfortable to drive, drivers have become more complacent and less safe. Most of the yayhoos I see driving around here scare the crap out of me now, let alone if they were

              • by maxume (22995) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @08:34AM (#18586057)
                When you give a car with an internal combustion engine 'reasonable' acceleration from 50 to 70 mph, you pretty much give it the ability to go 100 mph. If it has a gear that is efficient at 60, it will be able to go 90. You could add gears instead of displacement, but that's more expensive, only works to a point and makes the car more likely to breakdown.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by twistedcubic (577194)

            There's no need for a car that goes more than 70mph.

            Maybe there isn't a need to drive faster than 70mph, but an engine designed to max out around 70 will be a lot more stressed than one designed to max out at, say, 120mph. If the maximum power draw of your computer was 245 watts, would you buy a 250 watt power supply?
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by 6Yankee (597075)
              Wow, a computer analogy to describe a car. There's a Soviet Russia joke here, somewhere...
        • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @01:22AM (#18583443)
          Simple answer: reactive armor.

          Your small, lightweight 100mpg car will have high explosive charges placed in its bumpers; when it crashes into something they detonate, negating the threat. This will (1) eliminate the need for expensive, heavy crash-proofing, and (2) cause the Hummmers to think twice before bumping into a Mini Cooper.

        • by iangoldby (552781) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @04:05AM (#18584411) Homepage
          Except that it isn't.

          There already exists a car that can get 65 mpg - routinely - not on some secret test track. It has been available for about six years, and there are millions already on the roads in Europe. It's called the Renault Clio dCI and I have one. It is about the same size as any other super-mini and has a four star (out of five) European safety rating. It's quite lively - pulls away quickly and goes well over 80 mph. The Clio is not the only car of its class - there are others with similar performance and specification.

          Why is this remarkable? It is not.

          The only remarkable thing is that more people don't seem to know about this. Until fuel prices start to reflect the true cost of motoring, many people seem to prefer to bury their heads in the sand and continue to drive their gas-guzzling monsters.

          And the X-prize? It sounds as though it shouldn't be too hard to hit that 100 mpg figure. The real challenge is the change of perception required from the public.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shmlco (594907)
          " fuel efficient = excessively low acceleration and/or low top speed "

          Let's see, a Telsa [teslamotors.com] gets about 135mpg (equivalent), 250 miles per charge, has a top end of over 130mph, and does 0-60 in 4 seconds. It's also about $90,000 at the moment, but 0-60 in 4 seconds is well into high-end Ferrari/Porsche/Lotus land. Point being that "fuel efficient" and "excessively low acceleration and/or low top speed" don't preclude one another.

          It's also scheduled to go into production in about four months. Hmmm. Wonder why th
      • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:47AM (#18583201) Homepage Journal
        People really need to see cars as transport. Perhaps then they will start to think in terms of efficiency etc.

        People really need to start seeing clothes as something to prevent their reproductive apparatus from freezing. Perhaps then they will start to think in terms of the material and energy required.

        In other words: good freaking luck. Cars have been more than transportation for as long as there have been cars. Before there were cars, people had carriages and teams of horses, the perceived quality of which was a sign of wealth, status, and taste. It's been like this probably since the dawn of humanity, with various things.

        People will accept some sort of standardized, generic "people transporter" in lieu of a car, right after they all go to wearing standardized jumpsuits with built-in underwear, because hey, its only real function is to keep you warm, right? Who cares what it looks like. Ain't gonna happen.
      • This might be true in the US. We pay close to $1.50 per liter, so consumption IS an issue. It might also be a reason why you hardly see any SUVs or similar gas guzzlers here.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Lord Kano (13027)
        People really need to see cars as transport. Perhaps then they will start to think in terms of efficiency etc.

        You sir, have obviously never gotten your dick sucked because you were driving a nice automobile.

        LK
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        "towards smaller 1300cc or smaller cars."

        I'm 6'5" and I don't fit in your "smaller 1300cc OR SMALLER" car, unless it is a motor cycle, which isn't really car, and is impractical for a family.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by 0111 1110 (518466)

          unless it is a motor cycle, which isn't really car, and is impractical for a family.
          You obviously have never been to Cambodia [mahugh.com].
      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @10:36AM (#18587647) Journal
        First off, there's a macho intertwining of cars with manhood,

        I tried to intertwine my manhood with my car once. It wasn't macho at all. I got blisters.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sustik (90111)
        I just bought a new car (will pick it up when the foglights are installed).

        I chose the 2007 Honda Civic EX Coupe with manual transmission. (I currently drive a 1998 Civic LX.) I said to myself that the following matters: safety, reliability, environmental impact, looks; in this order. (Notice, that price was not there.)

        To be honest I realized that I am a tree-hugger and the excellent fuel efficiency alone would have steered me to this model. And of course price matters.

        I test drove a Lexus of similar di
    • by Kadin2048 (468275)
      I'm curious as to possible ways that someone might achieve this. I wonder if it's even possible with something that looks like a car as we know it today, and doesn't stray too far from current internal-combustion engine technology.

      I'm particularly interested in things like safety standards: to win the contest, would the vehicle have to be street legal? How about 'not a death trap'? I would think that you could get 100MPG out of a car pretty easily by making it incredibly lightweight, but I wouldn't want to
      • by hpavc (129350)
        You could take my Smart ForTwo and with more efficency get there I am sure, ~60mpg is a good starting place.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kadin2048 (468275)
          You could take my Smart ForTwo and with more efficency get there I am sure, ~60mpg is a good starting place.

          Are those street-legal in the U.S.? My understanding was that they're not, at least not yet. It's possible that my fear is irrational, but if I had to pick between being in one of those, or a Chevy Suburban, when slamming the two together, I think I'd probably pick the Suburban. And in our risk-averse culture, safety does sell cars.

          The real problem for subminis in the U.S. is interstate/highway drivin
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Ihlosi (895663)
            The real problem for subminis in the U.S. is interstate/highway driving: there's a much more limited market for vehicles that can't do high-speed interstate driving in the U.S. than in Europe,



            The Smart ForTwo goes 120 km/h (~75-80 mph), and that's only because it's speed is limited by a governor. You can get it without one, and slightly tuned, then it'll go 100 mph.

      • by homer_ca (144738)
        Formula 1 race cars are made out of carbon fiber and weigh a little over 1000lbs. Drivers regularly walk away from 150mph crashes.
        • Sure, but how big would you imagine the market for cars that cost a few million bucks?
          • by compro01 (777531)
            Sure, but how big would you imagine the market for cars that cost a few million bucks?

            how much of those millions is engine, transmission, suspension, tires, etc. ?

            all of those could be substantially toned down for a consumer vehicle.

            while the CF body might be expensive now, advances in manufacturing techniques and the efficiency of mass production could bring the costs within the consumer range within the decade.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Opportunist (166417)
              CF is expensive 'cause the material itself is. A good deal of the cost is development, that's a given, but even if you just lump the raw materials on a pile without even shaping them, you're gonna get a hefty bill.

              No matter what you do, the price of the car will be in the luxury range. And I kinda doubt people would want to pay for a compact the same it would cost to put a Ferrari into their garage.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by homer_ca (144738)
            You can't compare a one-off F1 car to any mass produced vehicle. A Dallara Indycar chassis is just as crashworthy, and they cost $300,000 [indymotorspeedway.com]. Indycars are still handmade, but at least they're produced in larger quantities and for several years per design. Most of the R&D cost of an F1 car is in aerodynamics and wringing the last bit of power out of those 18,000 rpm engines. Building a strong, crashworthy structure that hits minimum weight is the easy part.
    • by nmb3000 (741169)
      Is there a market for super efficient cars that look like tampons with wheels?

      Interestingly enough, Scott Adams talks about this very thing [typepad.com] in his latest blog entry. In addition to throwing some humor in the mix, he shares your opinion about the look of available high(er) efficiency vehicles.
    • by anagama (611277)
      If you've ever been to Japan and seen some of the really cool mini-cars they have there, and then come home wishing you could get that Subaru van that looked a tiny VW microbus and probably already gets 60-70 mpg, then yes, I'd say there is a market. Another one I saw looked like a miniscule hummer. There are plenty of bland ones as well, but I cruised all over in a 3 cylinder Honda Today (about 7 years ago) at freeway speeds, air conditioning, power windows, and I could even sit in the back perfectly comf
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Sellable is a relative point. If you make a 100mpg car that is like the Honda Prius but charge $58,000 for it then it will not sell, nobody but some e-freaks with lots of cash will buy it.

      Now make that car like the Geo Metro 2 door, base model everything and make it less than $9,999.99 and it will sell better than anything ever seen. The chevy Aveo already is an incredibly hot selling car simply because it get's 40Mpg and is very cheap to buy and own. the Americanized Smart car sold by Zap is incredibl
  • by quadra23 (786171) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:22AM (#18583003) Journal
    amd call for cars in two categories that are capable of 100 MPG in tests to be run in 2009.

    AMD calls for cars that are capable of 100 MPG? Meanwhile, I call for AMD to design a processor that is capable of 100 GHz by 2009.
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:24AM (#18583019) Homepage
    IMO this contest is looking for a milestone in a direction we may not want to go. On the surface it may seem worthy, but new technologies may be making internal combustion engines obsolete in the next decade, and I can't really tell whether the contest rules will take these advances into account. How would one judge a vehicle powered by a hypercapacitor, or by compressed air? You're comparing apples to oranges by merely judging the equivalent energy used to power the vehicle; the ultimate cost of stored electricity may be a lot lower per joule than that in refined petroleum, or it could be higher. How does one judge the total carbon emissions for that electricity? Was it generated by a coal-burning plant, or by nuclear? Or wind, or sea?
    • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:43AM (#18583165)
      Actually, you raise a very good point. As another example, take ethanol-blended gasoline versus straight gasoline. It's known that in terms of miles per gallon, ethanol blends are somewhat less fuel efficient than gasoline-only blends. It's clear, however, that energy utilization per volume isn't the proper metric for fuel, or else farmers would be the only ones touting ethanol blends as a potential 1.5th-generation fuel.

      How do you measure the fuel efficiency of a solar-powered car? Measured by volume, its fuel consumption is infinite, since it uses volumeless photons as its fuel. Even measuring it by utilization efficiency (energy out over energy in) confounds the true goal of next-generation fuels, that being to reduce environmental impact, since the impact of solar power is entirely in the manufacture and disposal of the panels. How do you measure that?

      And what's more, if somebody actually did develop a solar powered car that had performance characteristics comparable to compact gasoline-powered cars and was in the same ballpark in terms of price (perhaps taking comparable petroleum-based fuel costs into account), wouldn't it be unfair to deny this prize to the car's designers even though they went, ahem, the extra mile to bring the next generation of vehicles to the public?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mandos (8379)
      The infrastructure for gas based cars is already in place. In the US approximately 60-65% of oil is imported. A fivefold reduction in use would bring the US down to 20% of current consumption. This means that we would not need to import fuel anymore, and actually could (theoretically) export as much fuel as we use. The short and long term environmental benefits of the US dropping 80% fuel usage are pretty good too. (Yes this addresses only gasoline powered cars, not fuel equivalents.)

      I would love to see ele
    • Fair, but late. The internal combustion engine was a latecomer in the automotive industry, having been beaten by electric motors some time prior. The steam cars weren't too impressive*, but the cars fuelled off methane and other light hydrocarbons were the forerunners of modern engines that can burn hydrogen directly (not via fuel cells).

      *Steam cars were a problem, but steam power for vehicles can still be found. It turns out that steam power for extremely massive vehicles is actually quite efficient. Ste

  • A "practical" car (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stormwave0 (799614)

    The article seems a bit vague on what practical means. Will it have to include air conditioning, power windows, automatic transmission... like Americans are used to? I can see many entries removing all these features that are pretty much standard on cars today just to save some weight. That's not even going into how I hope it's safe enough to drive and can hit 60 MPH in under, say, 15 seconds.

    Now that I've mentioned my concerns, I have to say it's a great idea. Such a prize would push for innovation and

  • What about Electric (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wperry1 (982543)
    Why not an X-Prize for an electric car that can charge from standard electrical outlets and has a range of say 200-300 miles? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for efficiency but oil is a finite resource that is concentrated in hard to reach or politically turbulent parts of the world. Even as we improve on efficiency more and more people hit the road so we wind up treading water (or oil) and going no-where. As long as we depend on fossil fuels for energy the demand is going to increase faster than we can mak
  • wouldn't existing electric vehicles already meet the "100 mpg" criterea? Undefined gas mileage is certainly better than 100 mpg.
    Or what about a gas/electric hybrid that didn't really use it's gas engine, except at highway speeds, and charged up from a wall socket?
    • I wouldn't call it undefined. Calculate what the power plant has to burn to create the electricty the car uses for 100 miles and there you go.
  • VW 80% there (Score:3, Informative)

    by laptop006 (37721) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:34AM (#18583097) Homepage Journal
    VW already have a production car that gets ~80mpg and have had trial cars beat 300mpg in real traffic. Of all the big car companies they're the most likely ones to do this, yet as a big car company the $10m would be far less useful then the promotion.
  • by farmerj (566229) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:37AM (#18583121)
    VW [wikipedia.org] already have a concept 1 litre car. The 1 litre refers to the fuel consummation of 1 litre per 100 km. Now for the non metric people here this equates to 235 miles per US gallon or 282 mpg Imperial.

    More pictures and info here [greatchange.org] and here [vw.co.uk]. Now this is a two seat car, and if you follow the links above, you'll see not the most spacious.

    VW also produce a 3 litre car, the Lupo [wikipedia.org]. The fuel consummation here is 78 miles per US gallon or 94 miles per Imperial gallon and this car is in production, and will hold four people and a wee bit of luggage.

    With this in mind, does this competition sound like its really pushing the envelope?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Starburnt (860851)
      Fuel consummation?

      I don't think I want to know what that means.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jabuzz (182671)
      There was also the Audi A2 1.2L TDI Diesel, which did 94MPG (that's Imperial gallons), and had a 0-60 of 12.6s, so not really that far out the envelope of the competition. Frankly it looks to be based on a mindset of Americans who have no idea what is currently possible outside the gas guzzelers they drive.
    • Better yet, pick any midsized overpowered v6 sedan; the 250-300hp range that is ever so popular these days. Build me a 100mpg vehicle that performs like that and I bet you will get people lining up for them.

      Even with the dangers, see below, its high time we came around and brought vehicle standards up to new levels.

      Dangers:

      First, overlooked. If it cost less to drive people will drive even more. Urban sprawl would increase and traffic deaths would as well.

      The used car market would implode if such technolo
  • What about SAFETY? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Lets face it, the reason why a lot of people are driving big SUV's and suffering with 20 MPG highway 15 MPG city is because of the marvelous 5 STAR safety rating these vehicles provide.

    The roads are (in America) getting more crowded by the day, the law of tonnage rules and small guys get eaten alive in wrecks.

    Is it really worth it to be driving around in a vehicle that gets 30, 40 or even a 100 MPG HWY if it gets compacted like a soda can if merely bumped?

    Something to think about.
    • by Osty (16825) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @02:22AM (#18583789)

      Lets face it, the reason why a lot of people are driving big SUV's and suffering with 20 MPG highway 15 MPG city is because of the marvelous 5 STAR safety rating these vehicles provide.

      Most SUVs, especially truck-based SUVs, are much less safe than normal passenger cars. A low center of gravity plus properly designed crumple zones to absorb energy will always fare better than a tall rigid design like an F150. Even better, smaller cars are more maneuverable, providing "active" safety (the ability to avoid an accident entirely) rather than "passive" safety (the ability to walk away from an accident). The only thing making SUVs "safer" than average passenger cars is that everybody bought into the BS that SUVs are "safer". It's become an arms race, and if you don't have a jacked up monster then you risk decapitation if a SUV hits you from the side.

      The roads are (in America) getting more crowded by the day, the law of tonnage rules and small guys get eaten alive in wrecks.

      Crowding has nothing to do with it. In fact, in a crowded situation a smaller care may be even safer because it gives you the ability to squeeze into smaller areas for avoidance that you wouldn't otherwise be able to.

      Is it really worth it to be driving around in a vehicle that gets 30, 40 or even a 100 MPG HWY if it gets compacted like a soda can if merely bumped?

      That's exactly the point. Cars crumple to absorb energy that would otherwise transfer into your internal organs. Your best bet is to learn how to drive and avoid such situations in the first place. If you can't handle that, you really shouldn't have a license in the first place.

    • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @03:04AM (#18584019) Homepage
      "Lets face it, the reason why a lot of people are driving big SUV's and suffering with 20 MPG highway 15 MPG city is because of the marvelous 5 STAR safety rating these vehicles provide."

      As if.

      http://money.cnn.com/2001/06/04/home_auto/pickups_ crash/ [cnn.com]

      "WASHINGTON (CNN) - The nation's top-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150 pickup truck, fared poorly in high-speed crash tests, according to a new study of large pickup trucks by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which found the results ranged from good to poor for other makes and models.

      In 40 mph tests, the institute characterized the safety performance of the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram as poor. In the case of the F-150, the institute said it's about as "bad as it gets."

      A mini cooper is safer in an accident.

      http://www.bridger.us/2002/12/16/CrashTestingMINIC ooperVsFordF150 [bridger.us]
  • I'm guessing the winner of this contest will produce a tiny car with a very lightweight aluminum chassis, maybe strengthened with mass produced carbon fiber tubes. It will run a small turbo diesel engine, perhaps at constants revs with a hybrid battery system and regenerative brakes. It will run on small low friction tires and do very poorly in crash tests.

    I suspect any of the large auto manufacturers could make this car today. They don't bother because there's such a small market for this sort of v
  • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @12:52AM (#18583235)

    Can I use a gallon of uranium instead?

    Can I total the distance that each piece travels, or does it all have to be in the same direction?

    Can the direction be "up"?

  • volkswagen already did more than double this with their 1-litre car [canadiandriver.com] (100km on 1 litre of gas. that's a little more than 235 miles per gallon).

    i imagine we can do a little better given that this was created nearly 5 years ago.
  • by TheSync (5291) * on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @01:04AM (#18583323) Journal
    Power an electric car with a nuclear battery [ieee.org].
  • by arcade (16638) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @01:12AM (#18583369) Homepage
    First .. how long is a mile? In real units?

    Then .. how much is a gallon? In real units?

    When are 'merkins going to start using proper units?
  • Metric (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SimonInOz (579741) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @01:21AM (#18583435)
    Sorry to mention this, oh strange American folk (I'm in Australia), but generally, fuel consumption is expressed in lt/100km.
    So that's 2.3lt/100km.

    You know, my eight year old Hyundai Excel, four doors + hatch, air conditoning, carries my 4 person family about quite effectively, gets 5.5lt/100km (43mpg). I measured it for some years (it varied from 4.5 to 6.5). I don't even try that hard. And it's half way there.

    I am stunned to learn the average American vehicle gets 21mpg, or 8.9 lt/100km. Gosh. Do they have special oil burning jets out the back or something?

    • by Infonaut (96956)

      I am stunned to learn the average American vehicle gets 21mpg, or 8.9 lt/100km.

      Here people have decided that the supposed benefits of huge Galaxy-class land vessels are worth paying to refill every couple of days, because not only is there the long-standing male car culture here, but now women are using vehicles as a means of self-actualization, self-aggrandizement, self-empowerment, or whatever you want to call it.

      We're perfectly willing to go for instant gratification rather than long-term sanity. R

    • Re:Metric (Score:5, Funny)

      by bitt3n (941736) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @02:12AM (#18583735)

      I am stunned to learn the average American vehicle gets 21mpg, or 8.9 lt/100km. Gosh. Do they have special oil burning jets out the back or something?
      Well, wind resistance from Old Glory flapping off the antenna, plus the added weight of the gun-rack fully laden with automatic weapons, and the fact that we only drive on unpaved vertiginous mountain roads (see any SUV commercial) does cause us to burn more fuel, yes. I assume the X-Prize will require all participants to observe these standard requirements.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jschmerge (228731)
      Keep in mind that governments around the world mandate much higher fuel efficiency in autos than the US. Europe especially so.
      • Re:Metric (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ihlosi (895663) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @03:25AM (#18584151)
        Keep in mind that governments around the world mandate much higher fuel efficiency in autos than the US. Europe especially so.



        It's not mandates that make fuel efficiency a big selling point, it's the taxation of gasoline.


        And once the US government figures out that taxing gasoline would be a great way to pay for the war on terror ...

  • by Migraineman (632203) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @01:40AM (#18583553)

    They've published the Draft Competition Guidelines. [xprize.org]

    Lots of folks are knee-jerking with "what about electric vehicles?" Unfortunately, the Slashdot summary is misleading ... again. The X-Prize folks are citing a "100 Mile Per Gallon Equivalent," or MPGe. They account for electric vehicles. You can use natural gas as a fuel, or biodeisel, or E85. For the "mainstream" vehicle, it has to have a radio, air conditioning, etc. It's in the linked doc above.

    There are performance specs too. The vehicle must go at least 80 mph for the 2-seater; 100 mph for the 4-seater. Braking 60-0 must be less than 170 ft. They don't require crash testing, but expect you to demonstrate that you've built something to contrmporaty standards for front and side impacts. The standard compliment of mirrors, reflectors, indicators and gauges are required as well.

    The end of the document describes their objectives and how they came up with their requirements. It's a pretty easy document to read, and it gives you some insight into what they're trying to do (hint: it involves eventual production of the vehicle.)
  • Not 5-fold (Score:3, Informative)

    by MarsDude (74832) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @05:12AM (#18584829) Homepage
    Fivefold?????

    Hmm... Let's see...

    1 Gallon = 3.785 liters
    100 Miles = 160.9 kms

    So this equals to 42.5 km's per liter.

    That is just 2-fold.. lots of cars are already sold that can do 20 km/l !!!

  • by xoyoyo (949672) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @06:01AM (#18585105)
    Simple:

    1. Buy gallon of petrol/gas
    2. Wait fifty years
    3. Sell gallon of petrol to automotive museum for $50,000
    4. Buy train ticket anywhere I damn well like
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @06:52AM (#18585389) Homepage Journal
    We need better designed cities, not better designed cars.

    Cars are certainly the most flexible way to get around. But we should not have to use them for our daily commute through rush hour traffic or even for running most common errands or to go out and play or dine out.

    The problem really is with the way we (esp. the US) design cities. Instead of spending money on public transit-oriented communities, it's much, much cheaper for the municipalities to just pave a stretch of concrete and let individual citizens pay for the cost, maintenance, and operation of personally-owned vehicles. On top of that, condo construction here is pretty lousy, whereas if single family home construction is lousy at least your immediate neighbors are farther away from the noise.

    Unfortunately, we don't really have a simple way to measure how much energy people can save in cities with alternative transit as opposed to people who live in cities where they have to drive even to the nearest postal mailbox.

    In the mean time, the exciting progress in the transportation field ought to be things like transit oriented design:
    http://www.transitorienteddevelopment.org/ [transitori...opment.org]
    http://www.carfree.com/ [carfree.com]

    Progress in these areas of urban development will get us closer to constructing sustainable colonies in space than any improvement in individually run cars.

  • by Mr_Blank (172031) on Tuesday April 03, 2007 @08:36AM (#18586075) Journal
    http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/press/Lupo_3L_in_Guine ss_World_Record [volkswagen.co.uk]

        Looks like a production car to me. Where do I collect my prize for bringing this car to the world's attention? I could use the money to buy a nice Bugatti Verron.

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