back to article Surprise Automotive X Prize winners announced

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 …


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  1. Robert Hill
    Thumb Up

    VLC = ?

    Am I the only one that looked at the VLC and thought - "close cousin to the F-117 fighter"? It's got the same pitched angles, the same weird lines. I wonder if it is radar absorbent?

    Seriously, a very, very good call to do the EFFICIENT thing, rather than the politically correct thing.

  2. Bruce Hoult

    a real vehicle

    Note that Peraves has been making BMW motorcycle powered and fully road legal versions of these since 1984 and has sold several hundred of them.

    I don't know if they do 100 mpg, but they can't a long way off it — my 1995 BMW R1100RT (1100cc) does 60 mpg with two people and luggage and that's a normal shockingly unaerodynamic motorcycle with a big engine.

    Peraves emphasis has been on comfort, safety, and motorcycle performance including acceleration and 200+ km/h autobahn speeds.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    It's all very well, but

    I wonder what it's like in a strong crosswind? It has a side-on area similar to a conventional car, but it's a fraction of the weight so my guess is it will just roll over at the first opportunity. Even if you give it a wider track, because of the aerodynamic suspension cowlings it will have an increased floor area thus giving more wind force, plus the wider track will give more advantageous leverage to the wind when one side starts to lift.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Nice to see ignorance still drives progress-preventing fear.

      Grow some balls. Drive a smaller more efficient vehicle. Save a fortune whilst doing some good - with no downside - except for oil comps and miners who will be upset that their stripmining will not accellerate quite as fast as they hoped. Although they need not worry, it will still accellerate. Just not as fast as the shareholders might wish. IE as fast as possible and damn the consequences. Lol.

      Sell mining and oil stocks. Buy solar, wind and revolutionary automotive. That will be a good driver of change. Do not know what stocks comprise your pension fund?

      Time to find out. Make a call.

      1. Apocalypse Later

        Selling the winners...

        ...may salve your conscience, but it will hurt your pension. You can't change demand for a commodity by selling stock in the producer. Miners and oil are cyclical but are headed only upwards.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Shortsighted. Try this on.

          If you sell one tech and give your money to another, it uses your cash to grow and improve to a stage where demand for the new tech can outstrip the existing.

          To prove the point, that is indeed how oil itself became the current preeminent energy source.

          Similarly, by moving money, the old tech does not have your cash to use. It cannot do as much. It loses its edge.

          Voting w wallets is an important driver of change esp at an institutional level.

          If customers are calling their fund managers and requesting a move out of oil and into renewables, someone will provide what the market is requesting.

          The revolution in tech is then a self fulfilling prophesy. With green tech stocks growning and those of polluters falling.

          Of course, when oil runs out, the oil company stocks will likely not do too well. Why wait to get on the green train that is as inevitable as oil is finite and destined to be replaced as an energy source.

          1. The Indomitable Gall

            Re: Shortsighted. Try this on.


            "If you sell one tech and give your money to another, it uses your cash to grow and improve to a stage where demand for the new tech can outstrip the existing."

            You don't seem to understand stocks and shares. When you buy shares, you buy them from a shareholder, not the company. Similarly, if a shareholder wants to sell shares, he has to find someone who's willing to buy, which is most likely not the company the shares are in.

            A high volume of sales will have a negative effect on the value of shares, but this has no direct effect on the company's own business. Selling shares in Esso won't affect the price of petrol, for instance.

            1. Anonymous Coward


              He did not say "shares". You have obviously never heard of BONDS.

              It is quite right that if a company cannot raise as much cash they are disadvantaged. Selling assets in companies - whatever those assets are can make that happen.

              See BP.

              Buying into green techs will clearly grow them. And growing green tech quid pro quo implies a declining market share for the rest.

              Elementary stuff!

              1. some vaguely opinionated bloke

                He did not say bonds either

                IANAE but...

                "Buying into green techs will clearly grow them" but only if you're an original investor in that tech.

                If you invest in a company - ie purchase a stake or share in that company - then you can help it grow, as the company has raised capital through the sale of that share.

                If you subsequently sell that share (either at profit or loss) then the purchaser of that share has not invested in that company - they've invested in that share. The company gets no further benefit from it.

                If you sell your share in company A, and buy a share in company B from company B, then you have invested in company B and company B benefits as it has raised capital. If you buy a share in company B from an investor in company B, then company B does not benefit.

                Selling shares in company A (for example, BP) and buying previously traded shares in company B (for example A. Solar Energy) does not benefit either company. Selling shares in BP and buying equity (or bonds) in A. Solar Energy only benefits A. Solar Energy, and so on.

                Depends what you use your money for, and how - but the principle remains that only the original first sale of shares benefits the company that issues them.

                The only benefit that a company can raise from the subsequent sale of those shares is if they issue more at close to the same price as their existing shares are traded. That's (IMHO) the only reason to try to keep the share price up.

                Regardless, I like the sound of 100MPGe.

        2. Anonymous Coward


          How can accellerating extraction of FINITE resources go "forever upwards"!

          It is a complete contradiction in terms.

          1. Hyperion

            "Green" cars for libtards

            Hate to break it to you ignoramous, but battery powered cars use 'finite' resources as well, some of which are far more toxic. Where do you think electricity comes from? The propellor on your head? Read: Coal burning power plants and a variety of toxic compounds to create the batteries. Incidentally, creating solar panels takes a fair amount of waste as well. And that wonderful Prius that is so green? You'd be surprised how many toxic compounds and chemicals are required to manufacture them and their battery packs.

      2. Peter Storm



  4. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    Energy consumption does not cause climate change or (in itself) consume finite resources. If the X Prize people think they can promote technologies that will help avoid climate change, then penalising electric cars on the assumption that their leccy came from burning fossil fuels is a bad start. As the winners have demonstrated, the most energy-efficient mechanism is the one that has fewest thermodynamic conversions in it, so the whole Prize is biased in favour of direct consumption of fossil fuels. Great work, guys. Your friends in the oil industry will be well pleased.

    I assume you've got friends in the oil industry, right? It *is* a conspiracy, isn't it? I mean, you didn't do this because you are really stupid, did you?

  5. Emo
    IT Angle

    This title is intentionally left blank

    US Gallons < UK Gallons

    Figures less impressive!

    102.5MPGe = 85.3491 UK MPG - only 20more mpg than my '96 diesel that does 600+miles on a full tank.

    Although if my car looked like a spaceship/or looked like it could fly, it would be more impressive ;p

    Wonder how that Yamaha engine would fair on a motorbike...

    1. nsld
      Paris Hilton


      An American gallon is smaller than a UK gallon, so if it can do 100 miles on a US gallon it would do some 20 odd percent more using a UK gallon which is larger.

      So when we compare it to your 96 diesel doing 60 mpg it does more than double.

      You work for EDS?

    2. Magani


      I think you divided where you should have multiplied (or vice versa).

      100 Miles per US Gallon = 120 Miles per Imperial Gallon

      (cos you get more in a 'proper' gallon)

      So it's far from being less impressive and it leaves your '96 diesel in its wake.:-)

      Mine's the one with the matching 12.01gallon hat.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    I presume...

    we're talking about those good ol' non-standard-standard 'Merkin low-fat diet gallons? 3.8 liters as opposed to the 4.5 litres that everybody else uses?

    Anyway, 380kg isn't exactly world-shatteringly lightweight for a full four-seat car. It's only about a hundred kg less than the original 1950s versions of the Citroen 2cv - and the 1920s and 30s saw plenty of "light cars" which were far from dissimilar in weight.

    It's quite disappointing if this is being touted as the pinnacle of technology.

    1. Trygve Henriksen


      2CV rules!

      The first version did 80mpg.

      (Don't ask me whether it was US or Imperial, though.)

      And there were room enough for a man to wear his top hat.

      It's sad to see that cars haven't improved more than this...

      Mine's the one with the Citroën car keys in it.

    2. annodomini2

      But you wouldn't want to be in an accident

      Yeah not arguing that the 2CV was a good car, very good off road aswell.


      Wouldn't pass modern safety legislation.

      Secondly, the lighter you get the cost goes up exponentially due to the 'exotic' materials and construction methods used.

      Going below 500kgs in a road car, with creature comforts such as suspension, and brakes that work from cold is very difficult to do cheaply, especially in a volume environment. When you add comfy seats, heaters and aircon into the mix, 500kg is difficult.

      So 4 Seater with creature comforts and 380kg is impressive.

      1. Galidron

        US Sales

        I doubt a car like this would sell very well in the US. There are many people here who are terrible drivers, so they figure they need a bigger car so they wont get hurt when they cause an accident.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What accidents?

          "City cars" can and will drive themselves. You can eat a sandwich and get ready for the meeting whilst the little car gets you there directly and efficiently with less congestion. Bring it on!

          Not much sleep last night? No prob. Have a nap on the way home whilst the car drives itself.

        2. ertdfg

          Only reason

          Yep, that's the only reason. People in America don't have kids, or dogs, or go to the store and need to load up more than 1-2 bags of groceries so the only possible reason is they are "terrible drivers".

          thank goodness nobody buys anything larges than maybe 2 cubic feet ever that would require transport. Or should I rent a larger car for the once a week I need to go grocery shopping, and another once or twice a week when I have errands that need doing, and another time a week when I'll have passengers.

          This would be great for maybe 30-50% of my driving; but then I either need two cars or a rental for half my driving. How will that help the environment?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Weight is a point.

        Esp when those seats/cabins have to accommodate nations comprised largely of the morbidly obese.

        If people can ride accross continents on 200g saddles, I expect that for a few mins a day a light weight car seat would be ok!

        My MTB saddle weighs under 200g and is fine for 100km in real mountains.

        But a fatty would complain it is too small to even consider attempting to sit on. And the idea of not sitting for at LEAST 18h/day would be bordering insanity.

        Ingrained excessive consumption. Great resistance to change. Any argument will do to stop progress. Seats too small. They must be at least as big as my La-z-boy. I will crush the suspension with my 3rd gut alone...

        Solution is not to make the cars and seats bigger, but the people healthy enough to take advantage of the obvious benefits of smaller vehicles.

        That is a win win.

        You do not like my bike saddle analogy. Well try a Harley then. Plenty of fat old people do just find on their seats for hundreds of miles. They are not as heavy as the 3pc suite that is apparently the minimum requirement for vehicular seating in some markets.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      This could be earth shattering:

      Er, I mean less so than the status quo which is literally ruining the planet..

      That link is to a whole new way to make cars, so they can be small and still make a nice fat profit. And that is REALLY the reason a few people invent BS reasons that small cars are not good enough for most people most of the time is it not.

      This idea also frees up land and oil that would otherwise be needed for roads. Great.

      Has anyone considered BTW that when (not if) the world runs out of oil, it is going to get harder to maintain the road infrastructure anyway. Even if all cars are running on renewables by then.

      So needing smaller road area for the same number of journeys is a GREAT idea!

  7. Helloworld

    Winners from NASCAR country

    Interesting that both American winners are from the heart of NASCAR country, LiIon from the suburbs of Charlotte, and Edison2 halfway between Martinsville and Richmond.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. JDX Gold badge


    Ain't a ton 1000Kg? Or are we having a metric/imperial issue here? 987Kg is less than 1000Kg...

    Also, that motorbike thing looks terrifying. Though you can spot that it has stabilisers.

    1. The BigYin

      Tons and Tonnes

      No, a ton is not 1,000kg (it's 907kg). A tonne is 1,000kg (yes, the spelling *is* important in this case; it's not just pedantry).

      1. Dr. Mouse


        A metric tonne is 1000kg.

        A ton, or more correctly a short ton, is 2000 lbs = 907kg.

        A long ton is 2240 lbs = 1016 kg

  9. Anomalous Cowturd

    Re: squeaking in at just over a ton is not all that shabby.

    Sneaking in at just UNDER a ton is even better!

    1 tonne = 1000Kg

    1 ton = 2240 Lb (UK)

    Or is that one of your "special" merkin tons?

  10. spegru


    This is an American article and I am therefore guessing that it uses a weird Gallon that is equal to 3.785 litres and not the Proper Gallon which is of course 4.55 litres - being a quite substantial 20.2% difference.

    120 miles per *gallon* (effective or otherwise) is therefore pretty impressive.

    It also partly explains why traditionally american cars are traditionally seen as being so thirsty.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did they also adjust for E85?

      Ethanol is less power dense than gasoline. In the US we add up to 10% ethanol into our fuel - which means our gallon of "gas" has something less (maybe 2-5% if I recall) than the amount of power it should have.

      I couldn't bring up the MPGe spredsheet on my phone here, but I'd be curious if they adjusted E85 (85% ethanol) to its proper equivalent.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward

      For some reason I think you're actually serious

      ...but I'm hoping you're just trolling. Anyway, I'll bite.

      Using E85 is cheating? Do you even know what E85 is? Why would a less efficient hybrid running on 100% dino-juice be any better than a more efficient VLC running 85% ethanol?

      As for the rest of your fantastical, conspiracy-theory minded conjectures... next time please refrain from using words and concepts you don't understand to try and get your point across. Unless, of course, you were "hitting the renewables" and three sheets when you posted - in which case well done!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Give a guy a break. He meant using hydrocarbons - which encourages continued use of oil cos there is insufficient biofuel supply. And lets face it, biofuels have maj probs too. Like insuffient land area to grow enough and still feed people...

        No hydrocarbon based effort represents any real progress.

        Other than clearly pointing out that lighter and smaller vehicles are part of the way forward.

        So the point you berated is right on the money there too.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Biofuels

          No disagreement on the issues with biofuels, or that smaller and lighter vehicles are inherently more efficient than heavier vehicles. The reason I berated this this poster was not because I disagreed with those the tiny grains of truth in his post, but instead the over-the-top, invective-laced, holier-than-thou ranting and irrational/illogical extrapolations.

          Is it a fair complaint that a 100% ICE-based solution violates of the spirit of the competition? Sure it is. I might disagree, but I wouldn't berate anyone for it. I do, however, take exception to the comments in this thread describing the winning team as "selfish rednecks", "tossers", "cheaters", and "[a bunch of school children]" who have "undermined [progress] and possibly set the world back".

          If you don't like the rules or results of the competition take it up with the people who ran it. I have yet to see anyone or anything imply that the result was, in fact, a violation of the rules or the spirit of the competition *as defined by the organizers*... vs. a commenter's interpretation of what the rules should have been and who should have won.

          The fact of the matter is that most of the people really pissed about this whole deal seem to be upset because they feel that: 1.) an ICE-based solution of any sort is fundamentally bad/wrong, and/or 2.) electric solutions *should* be the superior solution and represented to the public as such, even if that's not really the case. Both of these views are ultimately value-judgments, and ones that the competition organizers appear to have avoided taking a stand on (although the lack of a biodiesel winner *may* have been intentional, as "diesel" solutions of any sort are typically viewed negatively where ethanol solutions are more accepted in the current US political climate).

          As other have posted, maybe it is sad commentary that the most fuel efficient car we can build *at this point* is not substantially different than an old Citroën... but as the saying goes - "wherever you go, that's where you're at". There's nothing to say that EVs or Hybrids won't start winning this competition in the future should it continue with the current set of rules.

          In fact, the Li-ion car (also built by "rednecks" from the South) is fully electric and won the side-by-side category. At 187 MPGe vs. the VLC's 102.5 MPGe it's not stretch to think that a 4-seater built in the same manner probably could have won the Mainstream category. If you like EV's this should be considered good news as it confirms the higher inherent efficiency of all-electric (to say nothing of its practicality problems). If you're a fan of hybrids I really don't know what to say other than this competition seems to confirm that there is a limit to how efficient you can make a vehicle of that type (they are, however, much more practical than an EV - which is still a good thing).

          Let's keep the conversation civil! If you want unreasoned/unhinged ranting that's what Ars is for.

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Maths fail

      "This winner is almost a cheat. They did not compete in the spirit of the competition - which was to find a way to minimise use of fossil fuels."

      So they served up a car that can use HALF the fuel of other cars on the road. So if a large number of these actually get built, you cannot work out how that would minimise the use of "fossil" fuels? Apart from the fact that it deosn't use much fossil fuel at all; most is alcohol, normally fermented from sugar beat or similar.

      In addition, any innovations that they made to making cars lighter can also be carried across to non fuel burning cars. I'm not even going to comment on the delusional rant that the rest of your post degrades into.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        "...normally fermented from sugar beat....."

        So E85 fuel is a popular beat combo then?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: TeeCee

          In the states - the only place I know where E85 is common - it is normally made from corn. Most of the corn produced in the US isn't really edible in its natural/unprocessed state and has been bred to be more of a tasteless, high yield industrial input of sorts for making things like High Fructose Corn Syrup.

          I'm not sure what they use in Brazil - I've heard rumors that they run 100% ethanol from sugar cane there.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        If my maths is correct using any petroleum as fuel means using infinitely more than none - as a percentage or multiple.

        So clearly they did not minimise the use of... When they could have used none by going w other techs in the spirit of the competition.

        Instead of attempting to do something important, they did something that any bunch of schoolkids could do to grab the money.

        They won cos no-one else was that cynical.

        1. Dr. Mouse
          Thumb Up


          "When they could have used none by going w other techs in the spirit of the competition"

          Yeah, because the battery-'powered' vehicles would not use any fossil fuels, would they?

          Coz they just charge the batteries from an electrical outlet... Oh, wait... That's mostly generated by burning fossil fuels.

          They looked at the competition, and the rules of it, and did what real engineers do: Find the best solution to the problem posed. Currently, their solution was the best available. In future, when the majority of the world's power no longer comes from burning fosil fuels, there will be greener technologies available, but until then they are right on the money. Well done for thinking outside the box!

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Renewable energy

            Remind us again why the battery powered vehicles cannot run on renewables.

            And pull out all the stops. You know, do not forget how every bit of wind on earth will die simultaneously despite a warmer climate and how tides will cease and the earth will stop and only point at China's solar panels and how all of this will happen at once. And how we could never transmit or store the energy and we could never build in spare capacity to cover any of these events (like we have now) etc etc etc.

            Come on, give us the good stuff.

            1. Dr. Mouse

              RE: Renewable energy

              Yes, battery powered vehicles can run on renewables, if there is capacity.

              Currently there is not.

              I am not arguing that EVs are the future, but based on current technology and infrastructure, the most green car tech currently practical is a light, efficient, ICE powered vehicle.

              To take over, EVs need:

              a) better energy storage technology (e.g. batteries)

              b) more "renewables" (e.g. renewable electricity generation)

              I do not say this to discourage the development of these techs, in fact quite the opposite. But at this point in time the technology is not ready to replace the trusty ICE.

  12. Rune Moberg

    Small cars are good for the environment

    Toy cars like the ones pictured in the article are good for the environment no matter what fuel is used.

    The cars are flimsy on the road, so there's a higher probability that they'll fly off into the road and hit a couple of trucks before finally finding a not so windy spot.

    And given their lack of crash protection, that means the car's inhabitant will be dead as a door nail.

    One less person to feed. One less person that exhales CO2.

    Which is a win-win situation for the environment and the rest of us who refuse to sacrifice road safety. (I drive 700+ km weekly and never leave home without my Saab -- bullet proof and sticks to the road no matter what. Next week I'll get a new one that drinks E85)

    1. Alex King

      Yes, that must be true.

      After all, my 150kg motorbike is always taking off and hitting a couple of trucks every time there's a stiff breeze. It's a wonder I'm alive!

      By driving around in a comparative tank, (nay, never leaving the house without it), you're continually flinging a large amount of energy around the roads, favouring your own personal safety at the cost of everyone else's - the less energy you have going on in a crash, the better it is for everyone.

      Maybe it would be better for everyone's safety and the environment if you were the one that stopped emitting CO2 and, for that matter, theiving oxygen.

      1. Ross 7

        I agree, BUT

        Just one point. Ek = 0.5mv^2

        In other words an increase in velocity adds much more kinetic energy to an object than an increase in mass. Given the speeds I see motorbikes doing round my way I'm not sure there'd be any less energy in a crash involving one of them.

        I don't judge you or your driving btw. And bikes are much better than cars for the environment when they're only carrying one person. Just a pity the environment is so much worse for the person when they crash on a bike than a car...

  13. Apocalypse Later

    Old hat

    I used to have a Citroen AX diesel, which model held the economy record back when it was new. To quote Wiki:

    "In 1989 a naturally aspirated diesel AX, using the 1360 cc all aluminium alloy TUD engine, managed a figure of 2.7 litres per 100 kilometres (100 mpg-imp; 87 mpg-US), totalling over 1,000 miles (1,609 km) from Dover to Barcelona. This was the longest ever distance travelled on 10 imp gal (45.5 L; 12.0 US gal) of fuel and earned it a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most economical production car."

    These prize winners aren't that far ahead of twenty year old production technology, and CHEAP production technology at that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      "These prize winners aren't that far ahead of twenty year old production technology, and CHEAP production technology at that."

      Absolutely. Makes you wonder if they deserve a prize at all. Def a prize for making fools out of the organiser an undermining the ideals.

  14. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    Refreshing to see a pragmatic approach which doesn't bow to currently politically correct rejection of fossil fuel entirely (while ignoring the impact of what goes into making viable alternative fuels) and doesn't involve sticking heads in the sand and denying there is any problem looming.

    It always peeved me that 2000cc cars, more fuel efficient and less environmentally damaging than 1400cc and the like, could be penalised simply for having a larger engine.

    There also seems to be an element in 'the green lobby' with a hidden agenda which desires to 'ban cars' and would never accept them even if they were ultra-efficient. This will however be bad news for them. Good.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. The BigYin


    This is a UK site featuring a USA story - so is the MPG in Imperial or in English? Why not quote figures in metric anyway, this is the 21st century you know and it saves the confusion caused by historic measuring systems. I guess they're asking the vehicle to do about 2.35 litres/100km.

    Anhyoo - have they not heard of the Honda C90? It's been doing economy of that level for years! Why do people need a car when there is usually only one person in it?

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Seems hard cash on the table *does* stimulate competition

    Note this is an *open* competition. *any* technology can play (hence the unusual units of measurement).

    I hope they will re-run it regularly.

    One of the *big* points. Low mileage cars are *deliberate*. There is *no* physical law that stops the design of a high MPG which is safe *if* it's a big enough priority of the design process.

  18. uncle sjohie


    They did a survey a while back, and in turned out that Dodge cars got closest to their claimed fuel consumption, and some hybrids consumed 40% more fuel then claimed. It had something to do with the fact that here in the Netherlands most of the hybrids are lease cars, which spend most of their time doing 130 km/h on the highway, where that dinky 1.4 or 1.6 has to keep all those batteries moving. A punto evo or polo greenline is moch more economical, but not as cheap, thanks to our government.

  19. Campbeltonian

    VLC and luggage

    The issue I foresee with the VLC is that as soon as you put four people and enough luggage to fill the boot into the car, its performance will deteriorate drastically. I drive a small and not particularly powerful car (although not to this extent), and although it drives fine with just me in it, fill it with people and luggage and even the most modest hills become challenging.

    My problem with the contest itself is that it doesn't take emissions into account. A car that emits nothing (electric), or only emits water (hydrogen) is going to be preferable in a city environment where air quality is important, and it's probably worth taking a hit in terms of total efficiency in that kind of situation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Thank you.

      I'm glad to see a green here call out the appropriate party (the competition organizers) regarding the rules instead of badmouthing the teams.

      That said, even the issue of emissions is a difficult subject as electric and hydrogen are by no means zero-emission, just zero-emission at the point of use... and when we say "emissions" are we grading by GHG emissions (mainly CO2) or other (typically particulate) emissions that affect air quality?

      As much of a compromise as it is to make this competition one-dimensional, at least it allows them to judge fairly.

      Trying to make a competition to determine "the most environmentally friendly car" would be difficult, if not impossible to do... as it would require significant value judgments to be built into the rules about the relative merits of one technology vs. the other on a seemingly never-ending list of criteria - something along the lines of how they grade LEED Buildings. How you weight the different criteria would create an endless debate between the proponents of the various technologies with someone crying foul at every turn.

  20. Deadly_NZ

    Or as Jeremy Clarkson would put it

    "Is it an american gallon or church of england???

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Westfield FW400 weighed errr well 400kg and that's a decade old using run of the mill engines and was (slightly) more sensible.

  22. andy gibson

    1 Ton

    Isn't 1 ton = 100 mph?

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Commander in chief.

    When every president in turn says we needs to git off oil, I think we should listen and do what we oughta do to support our country with what cars we buy and what stocks we buy and sell. Just my 0.02.

    I see jobs in green. Long term too. Cos we wont run outa waves or wind or sun.

  24. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    250cc engine and 100+ mpg?

    You just want one of these:

  25. Philip Skinner
    Thumb Down


    I ride a Honda CBF125 to and from work every day (about 43 miles in total). When driving carefully I get 160mpg, when driving aggressively (ha, its a 125) I get 115mpg. My GPZ gets me between 70 and 80mpg.

    Where is the story here? These things are hardly revolutionary in terms of fuel usage.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One problem

    1 VLC + 2x Lard Arse Merkins > 1 Normal car + 2 Euros (have to leave us Brits out as we're trying to catch the Yanks up).

  27. Swoop

    Reality check

    I wonder how such lightweight designs would fare in the real world? By "real" I mean out here in the sticks where it is not uncommon in the course of ones driving experience to have to negotiate steep hills and badly maintained, pot-holed back roads. And the occasional badger, of course.

    1. JimC

      Lightweight/Rough roads...

      The lighter the vehicle then the less the effect of rough roads... Competition Trials motorcyles, to reducio ad absurdiam, go over anything and weigh sod all. Its the sheer size of modern vehicles that gets me... Its instructive to see a real Fiat 500 alongside the reborn thing...

      The trouble with all this, of course, is that one "environmental" factor fights against another... I wonder how much extra CO2 is emitted worldwide as a result of all the extra fuel consumed by catalytic converters, which not only consume energy in themselves but also prohibit very sophisticate lean mix burning (thus low fuel consumption) engines?

  28. Bob Camp

    E85? Pure gasoline would have been better.

    If they had used gasoline instead of E85, they could have shrank the fuel tank by almost 50%, making the car even lighter and more fuel efficient. Imagine a gas tank that's only holds 3 gallons!

    No one has yet to find a cheap and practical fuel that has more energy density than gasoline. Until then, gasoline is the fuel of the future.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Good point.

      That could be the 'smoking gun' of their cynicism.

      Use E85 instead of real gas to look green whilst avoiding any attempt not to burn sugar/oil. Both of which are a total dead end long term. Both land and oil are finite.

  29. Rogerborg

    Now put 4 'Merkins plus their lunch in it

    Grinding along the ground isn't going to do its efficiency any good.

  30. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Increasing efficiency, period.

    "If the X Prize people think they can promote technologies that will help avoid climate change, then penalising electric cars on the assumption that their leccy came from burning fossil fuels is a bad start."

    The point of this competition is to come up with the most efficient vehicle, PERIOD. They made no assumption regarding where the electricity came from, they are measuring total power consumed by the vehicle, whether it is from gasoline, E85, electricity, or umm, "other". Conversion to MPGe just makes it all more relatable than killowatthours or BTUs or something. However, the fact of the matter is that electricity DOES come from fossil fuels at present (solar, hydro, etc. are just not a large percentage) -- and, with the present efficiency of vehicles there's nowhere near enough power, period, to run an all electric vehicle fleet. Coating each persons house with solar panels will not make enough power locally to keep their electric car charged either. This competition did meet it's goals though, several other winners were electric and it spurs development of more efficient technologies.

    Regarding E85, I think they did adjust for the lower power per gallon of E85 compared to gas. Probably they used E85 1) to at least have the perception of being green compared to regular gas. 2) High octane gas just isn't common in the US (most pumps you can't do better than 92 octane), E85 is good for preventing knock so they can really crank up that supercharger.

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