Feeds

Surprise Automotive X Prize winners announced

Internal combustion shocker

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The X Prize Foundation has announced the winners of the $10m Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize challenge, and the $5m winner of the Mainstream Class was neither a hybrid nor an all-electric vehicle.

"When we began this process," said the leader of the winning Edison2 team, Oliver Kuttner, "we followed the general assumption that building a hybrid, or partially electric vehicle, would be the answer to building the most efficient car."

But that didn't turn out to be the case.

"In careful research," Kuttner continued in a video interview, "we came to think that by far the lowest hanging fruit was just to build the best platform. The most efficient platform, by definition, is the lightest, lowest aerodynamic drag platform. We quickly realized that lugging around hundreds of pounds of batteries was conflicting with that philosophy."

And so Kuttner's team — which consists of over 100 people, many from racing backgrounds — created the aptly named Very Light Car. In their quest to build a vehicle that could meet the X Prize's goal of 100 miles per gallon (or thereabouts, as we'll explain in a bit), they powered the VLC with a 250cc, single cylinder, dual overhead cam, turbocharged Yamaha engine that maxes out at 40 horsepower and 29 ft-lbs of torque while running on E85 fuel, a mix of 85 per cent ethanol and 15 per cent gasoline.

The Edison2 Very Light Car

'I'm not for or against electric cars, I'm for efficient cars,' says the VLC's team leader

The VLC is very light, indeed, weighing it at 830 pounds (376kg). While that may seem weighty when compared with solar-powered waifs such as the Umicar Infinity, Nuna 4, or contestants in, for example, the World Solar Challenge, it's impressively svelt when you keep in mind that to compete in the Automotive X Prize's Mainstream Class, a car has to be, well, a car and not a delicate silicon-encrusted table-on-wheels.

The VLC is quite car-like: it seats four, has 22 cubic feet of luggage capacity, heating and air conditioning, a six-speed manual transmission, three-speed windshield wipers (with an intermittent mode, as well, natch), and even an iPod-powered stereo system.

And it tops out at 100 miles per hour. Efficiently. According to Kuttner, "Our car gets essentially the same miles per gallon if you're going 40, 50, 60, or 70 miles per hour. If we can get a car that get 100 miles per gallon going 70 miles per hour, I think that's a pretty good winner."

And the X Prize judges found after road testing at Michigan International Speedway and laboratory verification at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Lab that the VLC did manage to achieve that 100 mile per gallon goal: 102.5 MPGe, to be exact.

MPGe, however, isn't the same thing as MPG, and the X Prize award was calculated in terms of MPGe — miles per gallon equivalent — not MPG. As explained by the X Prizers, MPGe is calculated as follows: (miles driven) / [(total energy of all fuels consumed)/(energy of one gallon of gasoline)]. Thankfully, they've also provided an Excel spreadsheet you can download here to help you determine MPGe for an assortment of fuels and electricity sources.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Next page: Batteries and sex

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.