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Meet the Virginia-Built 110MPG X-Prize Car

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the just-some-good-old-boys dept.

Power 370

tcd004 writes "Instead of using Detroit engineers or Silicon Valley bitheads, Virginia-based Edison2 relied on retired Formula 1 and Nascar engineers to build its entry for the X-prize. Relying on composite materials and titanium, the team assembled an ultra-lightweight car that provides all the comforts of a standard 4-passenger vehicle, but gets more than 100 mpg. The custom engineering goes all the way down to the car's lug nuts, which weigh less than 11 grams each. Amazingly, they expect a production version of the car should cost less than $20,000." Earlier today, in a Washington, DC ceremony, Edison2 received $5 million as the X-prize winner. Writes the AP (via Google) "Two other car makers will split $2.5 million each: Mooresville, N.C.-based Li-Ion Motors Corp., which made the Wave2, a two-seat electric car that gets 187 miles on a charge, and X-Tracer Team of Winterthur, Switzerland, whose motorcycle-like electric mini-car, the E-Tracer 7009, gets 205 miles on a charge. Both of those companies are taking orders for their cars."

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Dial 911 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602554)

Go on. Do it.

Nice car (-1, Troll)

Pluvius (734915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602592)

Too bad the oil companies will make sure you never see it on the road.

Rob

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602618)

How will oil companies do this?

Re:Nice car (3, Funny)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602992)

They won't.

2010 may finally be the year of 100MPG on the Car!

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602654)

Gasoline is just one of many products made from crude oil and the refiners actually have to go out of their way to squeeze as much of it out of the crude stock as possible. The oil companies have plenty of other products to fall back on.

Re:Nice car (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602862)

Datsun B210

Re:Nice car (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602978)

It's still the sign of a net loss for them, a potentially *huge* net loss.

Re:Nice car (5, Informative)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602720)

Like they've ensured Tesla Roadsters never get to the road, nor the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, or the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation of Toyota Hybrids. Oil companies may have been able to get a stranglehold on battery patents before, but the EV genie is out of the bottle. So, go buy one (if it fits your driving needs).

Re:Nice car (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602886)

The Edison2, according to the article, is practical, affordable, and offers real and immediate savings to the consumer. None of the models you listed can make all these same claims.

I don't know if the oil companies will keep the Edison2 off the roads and out of the minds of the consumer, but I am well confident they will try.

Re:Nice car (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602984)

Don't worry. The government regulations will guarantee that it is never as efficient. Every car has to meet safety requirements: air bags, crash tests, type of glass used (plexiglass not allowed), etc. If this thing really is that light, it might not do too well in crash tests. In order to meet those requirements, it will have to be beefed up.

Re:Nice car (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603144)

Why no plexiglass?
It could even be two layers held together with a sheet of thing plastic in the middle like current glass. Seems redundant, but could be used to make everyone happy.

Re:Nice car (5, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603222)

So you're saying that despite the fact there are hundreds of thousands of them on the roads, the Toyota Prius is neither practical, affordable, nor does it offer any real and immediate savings to the consumer? And before you come back with some trite answer about it being a smug feel-good car, I've got two words for you to consider: Taxi Cab. If the Prius weren't a winner on all three of the metrics you name, why would taxi companies love the things as much as they do?

As for the Edison2, it's a cool concept, but it's still a concept. The thing exists as a one-off prototype with exactly none of the real-world production hassles and economics worked out. It therefore fails your three metrics by default.

Re:Nice car (3, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603002)

Yeah I like how people blame oil companies, but more typically it's the car companies themselves that cancel projects (EV1, RAV4) or the lack of interest from customer (Honda Insights barely sold at all). No conspiracy needed.

BTW my Insight can get over 100 MPG with slow driving (55mph) and avoiding use of the brake on the interstate. Of course it's only a two seater but that's fine for my daily commute. The best I've ever done was 121 MPG while driving south-to-north across Utah and Idaho.

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602736)

No federal crash testing safety standards will make sure this never sees the road. It has no airbags for instance. Also the lack of trunk space will make sure nobody would want to buy one.

Re:Nice car (1)

richardellisjr (584919) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602812)

I don't know, I looked at buying a motorcycle for commuting everyday and decided against it due to safety factors. This looks like it would get better MPG and be almost as safe as a regular car.

I see what you did there (0, Offtopic)

asdfington (1877976) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602816)

at least I hope you did there.

Re:Nice car (3, Insightful)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602996)

just make sure it has 5 point harnesses and a roll frame and solid anchor points and you should be able to skip the airbags. Really I don't get the "it's light and made of carbon it must be a death trap" thing. Look at an F1 car, they can crash into a car going 50-100mph slower, flip though the air, crash into a tire wall and both drivers get out under their own power and walk back to the paddock, or WRC cars, toss it down a mountainside and the driver gets out and climbs back up, or Peter Solburg in 2004 hitting a Hinkelsteine and going flipping down the road.

It's not hard to make a safe car, it's hard to make a car you can freely move around in and still be safe when it hits a wall at 70MPH, or another car also moving 55mph(110 wall). Strap the meatbags down and it helps a lot.

Re:Nice car (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603038)

Sure, but that's the problem with rules and regulations. Every time you write a law, and entire slew of assumptions get coded in.

What you describe may well be perfectly safe, but that doesn't mean the law still doesn't require airbags, for example.

Re:Nice car (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603162)

So add some airbags, whats that $1500 and a couple lost MPG?

Lots of people buy cars with no or no useful trunk. Go look at every sports car ever. Better yet, just add a hatchback lid to it.

Re:Nice car (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603358)

How the hell does no trunk space match ...provides all the comforts of a standard 4-passenger vehicle?

Re:Nice car (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602740)

I think it's going to have trouble meeting collision safety standards, actually, although it can't possibly be more dangerous than my motorcycle.

Re:Nice car (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602906)

I think it's going to have trouble meeting collision safety standards, actually, although it can't possibly be more dangerous than my motorcycle.

I've always thought it odd that we are so terribly worried about safety standards for cars, yet we allow motorcycles. Now, don't get me wrong, I think we should allow motorcycles. It just drives me nuts when we see some rather interesting designs and concepts ignored because it won't meet our standards even though you could make a simple (but clear and obvious) warning that such and such a vehicle does not meet the motor vehicle safety standards.

Maybe a class 'experimental' license that you have to get before you can drive one just to show that you are fully educated about the safety risks and how to mitigate them through behavior (extreme defensive driving).

Re:Nice car (2, Interesting)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603328)

Extreme defensive driving is right, because other motorists' perceptions come into play too. For instance, like every other driver on the road, I follow at distances where, if their car is able to slow down faster than mine, or I'm fiddling with the radio, I'm going to rear-end them. Before the banshees come out, hey, I'd avoid it if I could, but the fact is that when I do leave a space that would allow me to stop if they went from 60-0 in 1 second, another car passes and gets in that gap. There's no way to stop the behavior short of driving 30 in a 60mph zone, and that's what crumple zones, airbags, seatbelts, and insurance are for--driving in the real world.

Anyway, when I see a motorcycle, that goes out the window. I'm acutely aware that if they fall off the bike for some reason and I run over them, I'm probably going to kill someone, or at least fuck them up in ways that go far beyond sitting in a courtroom with a neckbrace suing my ass off. Since I'm not willing to accept that, I leave that space, and sometimes, even other drivers don't fill it in. I give them wide berth in other situations as well--just flat out, I never ever ever in my life want to hit a motorcyclist and do everything I can to make sure I don't. I notice most other drivers behave the same way, or at least leave some extra tolerance.

With an experimental car though, you're not going to get that immediate perception of "I'm quite possibly going to kill this person if I hit them." Sure, most of the risk is on the driver of the exotic, but what about steel rods that can detach in a collision and fly through the passenger compartment of a Saturn, or a million other things that can go wrong in weird ways? How do you even begin to evaluate that? Right now we require massive amounts of crash testing, but it becomes a lot less affordable to smash up 50 copies of your car when you might only sell 500 of them, and even then some wild design might cause huge problems in scenarios that aren't tested currently.

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602762)

Ehrm, unless it can carry groceries and soccer kids uphill in winter it certainly won't become the defacto automobile.

Just sayin'

Re:Nice car (2, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602770)

I was going to roll my eyes and say "conspiracy nut", and then I realized this one would be pretty easy to keep off American roads (en masse, anyway): how does it perform on crash tests?

Re:Nice car (1)

deathplaybanjo (1735092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602776)

there's also the consideration that Edison2 doesn't plan on producing the car for mass market anyway... however, its already been driven around Charlottesville with a reporter inside...so technically they failed to keep it off the road (referencing the NPR article from their main page today).

Re:Nice car (3, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602824)

First off, it's run on E85. That means it gets something like 50mpg and they say "theoretically" the car gets 110mpg in "gasoline numbers." i.e. if you switch it to pure gasoline, you should get 110mpg by some magic due to additional fuel density. (Imaginary, I'm convinced this won't happen; otherwise why wouldn't you just build a gasoline engine?)

At heart, the Very Light Car is a simple vehicle, avoiding the feature creep that has loaded down contemporary vehicles. Design simplicity, low mass and conventional materials result in lower material costs and production time.

Second, they seem to have avoided "design features" ... I don't see a feature list. ABS? Traction control? (things I don't care about). What about suspension? Is this 4 wheel independent? Rear wheel drive or all wheel drive? A heavy Torsen differential or open? All of these things affect the actual handling of the car and its safety. That whole "My Volvo is safe, I don't die when I hit things!" thing is bullshit; my Mazda3 is safe because I can turn HARD into a 120 degree right turn at 30mph without braking and, with tires screeching and wheels scrubbing, the car won't slip or skid sideways or spin or roll over.

If someone cuts me off on the highway, I can A) take a hit to my front quarter and spin; B) brake hard and get rearended by the tailgater, pushed into him, and spin anyway; or C) brake, downshift, floor it, and steer into a nearby opening. (C) is possible in my car; it was not possible in the Cobalt. In my Cobalt, I actually came off the road in a more gentle curve (still kinda tight, but not a hairpin or corner) at 30mph. The back slid a little bit and I had to fight to regain control. In the worst possible place (narrow roads, guard rails, mountains, and one lane going each way... if there was another car coming I would have had a head-on collision). This is not safe; the SUV I was pacing made it, and my Mazda3 can make it at 60mph+ (I've tested the handling elsewhere; no way am I pushing that car that hard on the street) so I know I'm not going to lose control in normal conditions.

That's what I want in a car. A good suspension, good brakes, good responsive steering, and slap some excellent tires on that bad boy. All wheel drive is excellent, Rear wheel drive is also very nice, front wheel drive ... has proven to be a severe safety hazard (loses control in the snow/rain/ice easily if your tires can't handle it; loses control trying to take off into a hard turn, so don't merge into cross-traffic from a stop). The car is safe, now teach the driver to drive, everything from recovery techniques to road etiquette and proper judgment.

Re:Nice car (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602914)

First off, it's run on E85. That means it gets something like 50mpg and they say "theoretically" the car gets 110mpg in "gasoline numbers." i.e. if you switch it to pure gasoline, you should get 110mpg by some magic due to additional fuel density. (Imaginary, I'm convinced this won't happen; otherwise why wouldn't you just build a gasoline engine?)

To be fair, I constantly see E85 marketed as a green fuel not a more energy efficient fuel. Some quick reading says that on average E85 is 25-30% less efficient than gasoline. Is it possible that a car could be 50% less efficient when running on E85? I would say yes if the car was specifically engineered to increase MPG and ignored other features.

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603046)

The "equivalent" thing you keep seeing is there because we, collectively, made the moronic decision to measure fuel efficiency according to volume of fuel (at what temperature, anyway?) and not mass, and a gallon of gasoline is heavier than a gallon of ethanol. (A gallon of diesel is heavier than a gallon of gasoline, too, but for some reason the "MPGe" thing is never used in the other direction.)

Re:Nice car (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603112)

my Mazda3 is safe because I can turn HARD into a 120 degree right turn at 30mph without braking

Plus it's got plenty of trunk room for shopping sprees and comes in a hot pink that's just FABULOUS.

Re:Nice car (2, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603272)

The Mazda3's not an awesome sports car. It's not a 2010 Camaro, or a 2006 GTO, or a Porsche, or an RX-8 or MX-5. That's my point, though. It's a decent little FWD econo car that ... can take a turn you should never, ever take at that speed. In an emergency situation, it's down to driver skill and not what engineering went into vehicle dynamics. I can stop fast, I can turn fast, I can control my vehicle. It forgives mistakes and some level of stupidity.

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602860)

Actually, too bad the nanny state DOT and NHTSA will make sure you never see it on the road. I can all but guarantee it won't pass modern impact tests and does not have the requisite number of airbags etc... plus who is going to mass produce it? Labor unions? HA! So much for the under $20k without compromising the prototype design

Re:Nice car (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602946)

Hiring a bunch of unemployed (aka non-unionized) former factory workers is getting easier and easier these days.

Re:Nice car (1)

kwbauer (1677400) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602918)

Easy there. Are you sure you aren't Steven Seagal?

Re:Nice car (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603042)

Too bad the NHTSA won't either. In addition to the total lack of safety, can you imagine anyone over 40 getting into those narrow, low-slung doors?

Re:Nice car (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603350)

No, because anyone over 40 is going to be driving a car so large they can barely see over the steering wheel.

Re:Nice car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603048)

Actually the government and consumers will take care of that. Crash Safety Equipment, Air Conditioning and other very standard(and heavy) systems from normal cars are missing on these vehicles. Once you add that up the 110mpg will be similar to what normal auto producers make.

Re:Nice car (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603068)

More likely, these are specialized cars designed to meet an X-prize goal, not to meet road-safety standards, so you will never see it on the road. But you may see the technology in your next boring every-day car. Right now, I bet someone over at Toyota is calculating how much better gas mileage they can get by using specialized lightweight lug nuts.

gas engine ftw (1)

deathplaybanjo (1735092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602600)

whoda thunk such a thing could come from Lynchburg (manufacturing-wise)...i was pleasantly surprised when i heard about this a few months back.

Re:gas engine ftw (2, Funny)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602656)

Seriously - the only manufacturing in Lynchburg is Fleets Enemas. And Failwell UN-iversity grads. Come to think of it those are pretty much synonymous...

Huh? (4, Funny)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602612)

"Two other car makers will split $2.5 million each"

What does that mean? Does it mean they get $2.5 million each or is it split between them?

Re:Huh? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602664)

Both get $2.5 million each, then each splits it into $1.25m and gives $1.25m to the other.

Re:Huh? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602704)

They get 2.5 each. It was a 10 mil prize total.

Re:Huh? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602756)

Reading the Wired article, linked below, the total prize was $10 mil. Edison2 got $5 mil, the other two got $2.5 mil each.

Re:Huh? (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602966)

Considering the other team made a car that got 187mpg (and it looks like a real car, to boot), I hope it's for each.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603026)

Considering the other team made a car that got 187mpg (and it looks like a real car, to boot), I hope it's for each.

Not quite. From the summary: "Mooresville, N.C.-based Li-Ion Motors Corp., which made the Wave2, a two-seat electric car that gets 187 miles on a charge"

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603278)

It's grammatical nonsense.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who read that and went "huh?".

Better story at Wired (5, Informative)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602644)

The story at Wired [wired.com] has pictures.

Why (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602768)

Why the in hell does it look like that?

For the love of God make one of these cars look like a damn car.

Re:Why (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602822)

Physics is not a slave to style.

The problem with cars is we expect them to look a certain way. This shows we could make more efficient vehicles with a radical new design.

Re:Why (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602990)

Why the in hell does it look like that? For the love of God make one of these cars look like a damn car.

I bet a lot of people said the same thing when they stopped putting fins on cars.

Personally, I think it looks pretty neat and would love to take one for a spin.

Re:Why (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603122)

I bet a lot of people said the same thing when they stopped putting fins on cars.

Not really, because big fins were a fad that only lasted about 7 years. This car looks radically different: teardrop shape, wheels in fenders set apart from the body, and extremely low ride height.

Re:Why (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603324)

I believe you mean designed like a car should be. A car in pretty much any non-teardrop or boxfish shape is putting form over function.

Re:Why (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603158)

"All the comforts of a standard 4-passenger vehicle" my ass. No wonder the TFA didn't have pictures, everyone would see the lies.

Re:Why (2, Insightful)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603174)

it looks like a car, i see 4 wheels, and a steering wheel... what more do you want?

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603348)

This is Slashdot, he wants to whine because the whole world isn't required to satisfy his whims.

See also: every other story on here ever.

Re:Why (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603212)

You want an iCar this model instead has function over form.

Re:Why (2, Funny)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603336)

Why did the Model T Ford look like that?

For the love of God make one of these horseless carriages look like a damn horseless carriage.

Re:Better story at Wired (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602954)

VW has been doing some interesting stuff with high-milers

http://www.thecarconnection.com/marty-blog/1035176_preview-170-mpg-volkswagen-l1-concept

Re:Better story at Wired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603242)

I'm sure these numbers look awesome when the driver is some 95 pound waif in a skin-tight suit weighted in grams.

What's the gas mileage on this 4-seater 830 pound car when you've got it fully loaded with four 300 lbs Americans each busting at their pants' seams for some McDonald's Happy "this is why you're fat" Meals in the drive through?

Actually, would the car tip over if those same people didn't coordinate getting into a car that weights less than a slab cement mailbox?

Cognitive dissonance (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602670)

I believe the statements "Relying on composite materials and titanium" and "should cost less than $20,000" are contradictory.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602778)

The car's only 830 pounds, so they don't really need much of either.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602852)

Even if the titanium was free, the cost of forming parts out of it would still be very high. It's not it's easy to weld that stuff together.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603224)

So use lots of flat pieces and bolt it together. Not saying they did that just a possible alternative.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603008)

OH brilliant! So part of the fuel economy system is relying on the wind pushing it!

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

sheehaje (240093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603306)

Let me rephrase that for you:

OH brilliant! So part of the fuel economy system is relying on the wind not pushing it!

I'm not even close to an expert, but I think that is what aerodynamics is all about, or at least cars designed with aerodynamics in mind is about.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (4, Informative)

Fred IV (587429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602818)

It looks like they opted for non-scarce materials according to the official site: [edison2.com]

The Very Light Car is a more sustainable vehicle. Not just efficient to drive, but cradle-to-grave environmentally responsible. Less mass means fewer material inputs. Energy intensive materials and hazardous or scarce materials are largely avoided in favor of conventional materials, such as aluminum and steel, that are readily available, easily made in volume, and completely recyclable.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602854)

Depends on what composite material. Plywood is a composite material.

Though being serious, this isn't a large vehicle. It seats 2. That's the reason why they think they can make it that cheap.

Re:Cognitive dissonance (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602900)

Is that why TFA says a "the team assembled an ultra-lightweight car that provides all the comforts of a standard 4-passenger vehicle"?

Does it include a unicorn? (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602804)

With carbon fiber body and a titanium frame, it costing less then $20,000 sounds not even possible.

Add to it the 800lbs GVW and if the thing gets hit by another vehicle in the 2000lbs range it will certainly fly off the road. Good start, just not very believable in the statements made.

Re:Does it include a unicorn? (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602878)

Part of arriving at the 110MPG figure was figuring in kinetic energy transfer and mostly friction-free airtime following collisions.

Re:Does it include a unicorn? (1)

Fred IV (587429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602926)

The frame is made out of steel, not titanium.

Re:Does it include a unicorn? (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603094)

My bad. But even at that they are using expensive steel and still using titanium in the car somewhere. If it has to be welded or machined it is one expensive proposition. With that plus the carbon fiber body, I find it hard to believe they could keep the cost that low. If they chance materials, those mpg numbers change, certainly if they are even worried about ounces in the lug nuts.

Can it meet safety standards? (4, Interesting)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602806)

Does it have air bags, side-impact beams, crumple zones, etc? It seems like an impressive bit of engineering, but it will never make it to production in the US unless it meets all the government crash and safety standards.

Safety standards are one of the main reasons a 2010 Honda Civic gets nearly the same mileage in practice as a 1990 Civic. Although the more modern car has made strides in improving drive train efficiency, it weighs over 600 lbs more resulting in nearly the same fuel efficiency. Things like side-impact beams, air bags, and ABS make cars safer, but they also make them a lot heavier.

Re:Can it meet safety standards? (4, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602832)

Does a motorcycle have air bags, side-impact beams, crumple zones...?

Maybe we need a new class of driver's licence.

Re:Can it meet safety standards? (1)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602938)

I'm not saying those safety standards are necessarily a good thing, just a fact of selling production automobiles in the US. I myself ride a motorcycle and have for years wanted a European-spec Lotus Elise (The American version is much heavier due to emission and safety requirements), so I know where you are coming from. If an individual wants to buy a cheaper, lighter car without air bags and side-impact beams, they ought to be able to.

Perhaps you are onto something with the motorcycle reference. Looking at the pictures, perhaps they could get it classified in a class like the Can-Am Roadster and be exempt from much of the normal car requirements.

Re:Can it meet safety standards? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603186)

If an individual wants to buy a cheaper, lighter car without air bags and side-impact beams, they ought to be able to.

Not in any nation with universal health care. A car like this will protect passengers just well enough to cripple them in an accident, and require hundreds of thousands of dollars of care and rehabilitation. The government needs to keep health care costs down, so we either need cars that are very safe, or motorcycles that pretty much result in a fatality in any serious accident.

Re:Can it meet safety standards? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603380)

Nah, insurance rates will just be through the roof on this thing.

Low Speed Vehicle (4, Informative)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603170)

There is a category rapidly emerging between the motorcycle and full-on automobile: the Low Speed Vehicle [wikipedia.org] (if electric, also considered the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle [wikipedia.org] ). The relevant sections of the two similar articles are:

A low-speed vehicle (LSV) is a legal class of 4-wheel vehicles that have a maximum capable speed typically around 25 mph (40 km/h), and have a minimum capable speed (typically 20 mph (32 km/h)) that allows them to travel on public roads not accessible to all golf carts or neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV). The vehicles operate under very similar restrictions to but without the specification of battery electric power.[citation needed] See the NEV article for general vehicle requirements.

The NEV article states the safety requirements:

Regulations for operating an NEV vary by state. The federal government allows state and local governments to add additional safety requirements beyond those of Title 49 Part 571.500. For instance,the State of New York requires additional safety equipment to include windshield wipers, window defroster, speedometer, odometer and a back-up light. Generally, they must be titled and registered, and the driver must be licensed. Because airbags are not required the NEV cannot normally travel on highways or freeways. NEVs in many states are restricted to roads with a speed limit of 35 mph (56 km/h) or less.

In addition, some states have increased the MPH limit (owner can easily mod this) to 35MPH, allowing them to travel on 45MPH roads in the slow lane:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published safety guidelines in the United States which apply to vehicles operating in the 20-25 mile-per-hour speed range.[4] As of January 2007, twenty-five of the fifty states of the United States had passed legislation legalizing the use of low-speed vehicles on highways in the state.[4] By 2009, nearly all 50 states allow LSVs, also called NEVs, to drive on their roads. Either they follow FMVSS500 (25 mph top speed on 35 mph limit roads), or make their own more aggressive law. as of end of 2008, 9 states had made it legal to drive them 35 mph speed, most on 45 mph streets. In 2009, Texas has passed a new law (SB129) allowing them to drive 35 mph on 45 mph roads; California and New Mexico have proposed laws in their respective legislatures.

All of this adds up to a vehicle that is good for local commuting (if allowed on the 45MPH "expressways") and grocery grabbing, with minimal safety requirements and if it's non-emissions, also benefit from tax incentives.

I'm definitely keeping my eye on this, it'd be great for those days when I don't want to ride the bike to work (i.e., have to pick up the kid). The Edison2 car would fit nicely here (though it wouldn't get tax credits).

Re:Can it meet safety standards? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603288)

The 2010 also produces 140 horsepower vs 108 for the 1990 model. Let's not bullshit ourselves fuel economy comes way after power and safety in modern car design.

fast, safe, efficient (1)

db10 (740174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602836)

well it's not fast, it's not safe, but it's very efficient.

2-3 Vehicles per house. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602876)

1st vehicle is made for a single person. Built for fairly low speeds (under 50), lightweight, obscene gas mileage, but 4 wheeled, and safe as can be. Made for to and fro work, non-highway.

2nd vehicle is multi-passenger, but not a long-hauler nor does it require fast speeds. Again, 50 and under. Make it lightweight, great mileage, made for around town, picking up the kids, going to the grocery store.

3rd vehicle is multi-passenger, highway driver, large capacity, made for high speeds. Gas mileage is probably nothing special. This is a travel vehicle made for time on the road.

You make these 3 with quality and safety in mind, and not trying to make money hand over fist, and you've won the salesroom. Yes, there will always be those who want sports cars, and gas-guzzeling suv's, however if you go to the sales lots today, it is VERY apparent what is lacking in quality and safety, and plain sensible engineering that a 100 year old industry should have. Disgusted doesn't scratch the surface with the current state of automobile selection.

Re:2-3 Vehicles per house. (1)

TheBig1 (966884) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602934)

If you can get #1 for a reasonable amount of money, I'd say that would be great. How much traffic these days is from single occupant commuter traffic? Here at least it is too cold for motorbikes 8 months out of the year; if the 1 seater vehicle is enclosed and heated, it would be a great solution.

Re:2-3 Vehicles per house. (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602964)

Wow! With the need for 2-3 vehicles in the garage, I can see why Progressive Automotive sponsored the X-Prize contest. Just think of the premium checks they'd collect.

Re:2-3 Vehicles per house. (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603286)

Fisrt thing to note is that the cost of the car is not because they are "trying to make money hand over fist" They are trying to make money but what business is not? The big raise in the price of cars is based on the emission control systems that now how to be installed. The catalytic converter, EPS Valves, Etc, etc, etc. Add to that that new cars have to monitor emissions so where an old car had a Collaborator, a new car has Fuel injectors, Computer, O2 sensors, cam position sensors, etc.

All of that costs more money! BTW, that is a 100 year old industry where congress has been requiring things to be added. The engineers can easily design efficient, safe, well designed, fuel efficient cars. But not that match existing regulations.

So, here is some light reading

FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS
http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/import/fmvss/index.html

now, before some one says "Hay those are safety standards, we need them" Go read through them, they specify alarm requirements, Passenger Automobile Average Fuel Economy Standards, The list goes on.

 

Nascar Engineers? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602894)

Does this mean the car can only turn left?

Geez people (2, Insightful)

asdfington (1877976) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602896)

this is a PROTOTYPE that was built to win a contest!! Obviously it wouldn't meet safety standards and is not road legal for various reasons. The point is, if they put it into production, and lose, say, 35mpg in efficiency (I know nothing about automotive stuff, just for the sake of argument), it's still ~65mpg! Which would be revolutionary. As for <20k... that seems unlikely, and it seems much more likely that price and the cost of large scale auto manufacture is what will keep this off your local dealer's lot.

Re:Geez people (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602974)

Yes 65mpg would be SOOOO revolutionary [businessweek.com]

How does it perform in crash test? (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602898)

Before we get all excited about this car's potential to solve our energy problems, we should give some thought to practical matters like crash safety.

Re:How does it perform in crash test? (1)

Bullseye_blam (589856) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603334)

About as well as ramping a steel pipe through tin foil?

Sad thing being... (2, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33602942)

I had a "Popular Mechanics" magazine from the early 80's that had an article on how to make a 100 MPG car with a spitfire car frame, molded fiberglass, and a Kubota tractor engine.

It's sad that it would take a X-Prize contest with a 10-million dollar purse to get us back to using the technology discussed in a old magazine.

Congrats to the teams. I'm just commenting about the automobile industry as a whole.

Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602968)

It's Virginia built. That means it probably has neither turn signals, nor rear view mirrors, nor the ability to move in anything other than stop and go traffic.

Not 102.5 MPG In America (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33602972)

Unfortunately, after the added weight of an average American the car only gets 50 MPG.

Production costs $20,000? Yeah right (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603004)

Titanium is expensive. It's not easy to fix. And the aircraft industry has gobbled it up. My company has seen titanium prices go up 6 fold in the past few years due to the 787 and the A380 using similar titanium/composite bodies. While it's come down in the recent years, raw titanium is still roughly $11/lb, vs steel which runs about $.50/lb. While you use less lbs of titanium for a car than you do steel because titanium is lighter, it's not 5% of the weight of steel. The raw material on this thing will likely cost 5-8x what a regular car will cost.

Tripling or Quadrupling? 100mpg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603148)

My diesel sedan from the mid-90's gets 60mpg, and weighs a bloody ton with all the steel, safety features, and such. If I threw a diesel engine in an ultralight chassis, without all the airbags and comfort, I wager I could break 100mpg. Heck, keeping everything in terms of comfort, but reducing the weight with a reengineered frame of lighter alloys, and carbon-fiber and plastic, and some better aerodynamics, and you could probably break 100mpg. Or make one where the "engine" is actually an electric motor, and a diesel generator constantly recharging the batteries in the back, and you can probably make a vehicle that can have lovely speed (as the generator can replae the need for quite a lot of the batteries needed for something like a Tesla), while having the option of running on just batteries to drive across town in wonderful silence.

It's all about how to approach the problem. (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603152)

That's cutting edge, but I rather go with the current "state of the art"? [insideline.com]

More practical and way more fun to drive.

Re:It's all about how to approach the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603276)

The Mustang averaged 48.5 mpg at an average speed of 43.9 mph.

The mpg is bullshit. You can't get people driving a U-Haul to go less than 70 mph, much less Mustang owners.

Regarding safety, from the site: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603184)

"Innovations derived from racing enhance safety in the Very Light Car. These advances include collapsible space not available in current cars (such as wheels outside of the main body structure), a shape that deflects impacts, and a lightweight but sturdy steel frame. The nimbleness of the Very Light Car aids in accident avoidance, and low mass is an advantage in single-car or auto-pedestrian accidents."

( from http://www.edison2.com/facts-and-figures-overview/ )

Motorcycle (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33603298)

They took a motocycle trike and put a canopy on it. FU. It's not innovative and quite frankly looks like hell. Do most people want a $20,000 quadricycle. NO! Try again, motorcycle trikes are able to at least pull something, not much but something, and they already get the mileage they claim to suddenly be capable of. Remember folks, you still have to deal with a big rig in a snow storm. What? It doesn't work under 35deg F? And you WILL die if you get into any type of accident? Great selling points. Ex F1 engineers? I don't think so. They may have worked for a short time building F1 cars but you know damn well they were run off for their lack of engineering skills. This is sophomore pre-graduate engineering at it's best.

Like the above posters have pointed out. (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/08_37/b4099060491065.htm) Cars like this will never be seen in the U.S. Why? Because of greenie lobbyist organizations that know nothing about emissions and what truly is green. They love their lobbying power, they love driving SUVs and flying private jets to their functions. Let me put it to you this way. If you donate money to these outfits you are a fool. It's funny how they often lobby against cars like these because of their simplemindedness. "Diesel is bad! We are green! Trust us!(as they fly away on a private jet funded by you)"

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