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New X-Prize for Fuel Efficient Cars Announced

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the it's-like-the-robot-one-but-with-less-programming dept.

Transportation 371

miowpurr writes "A new X-Prize for ultra fuel efficient cars has been announced. The winning car must 'carry four or more passengers and have climate control, an audio system and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. They also must have four or more wheels, hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds and have a minimum top speed of 100 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles. Those that qualify will race their vehicles in cross-country races in 2009 and 2010 that will combine speed, distance, urban driving and overall performance.'"

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Less exciting (2, Interesting)

philspear (1142299) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806318)

This is just not as exciting as the other X-prizes. Maybe more valuable, but still. Just saying.

Re:Less exciting (-1, Troll)

Lord Haw Haw (1248410) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806370)

Maybe you just haven't properly researched the prize? [yahoo.com]

Seems to me fairly challenging, and a challenge to me means excitement.

More practical than other X prizes (5, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806384)

Sure, it's less exciting on a sci-fi-this-is-awesome level, but it seems to me like the most practical of the X prizes. This is the first that could very conceivably have a massive effect on worldwide transportation and even politics and the global economy in the next decade. What other x prize is tied so closely to the major environmental concerns of the day?

Maybe fewer people will follow the prize closely, but I suspect that more will follow its aftermath.

Re:More practical than other X prizes (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806784)

I guess that would depend on what you consider a major environmental concern. Getting as many people off my planet is the top of my list. ;)

Re:More practical than other X prizes (0)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806998)

This "race" will likely include Honda Civic and Toyota Prius hybrids.

As you said, nothing too terribly exciting.

Re:Less exciting (5, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806618)

Maybe I'm just old, but having a competition for something that's actually practical and could somehow find it's way into the consumer market is a lot more exciting to me after all these contests that really don't benefit "real" people.

Re:Less exciting (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806652)

One reason why it's not exciting is that a number of outfits already have qualifying vehicles. That makes this more of an announcement of a Green Car Race two years in advance than throwing down the technology gauntlet and challenging teams to come up with something genuinely ground-breaking. Just as one example, Tesla Motors (www.teslamotors.com) plans to have a car substantially superior to the specs mentioned in this X-Prize in production by 2010: the WhiteStar.

Re:Less exciting (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806772)

I thought the Tesla Motors cars were all electric? How do you intend to go cross country with an all electric car? I don't think the rules will allow for you to chase it with a big generator truck to recharge the car every 200 miles. The way the rules are written, it sounds to me like your car is pretty much going to have to be gasoline or diesel powered because that's the only way you're going to be able to refuel it when you're 1000 miles from home. Sneaking in behind shopping malls or something every 200 miles and plugging it into an outside wall outlet is probably not going to work.

Re:Less exciting (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806820)

I don't think the rules will allow for you to chase it with a big generator truck to recharge the car every 200 miles ... Sneaking in behind shopping malls or something every 200 miles and plugging it into an outside wall outlet is probably not going to work.

So the other teams have big tanker trucks chasing their cars? Oh, that's right, there's a gasoline infrastructure in the United States so they'll be able to refuel. Well as it happens, there's an electrical infrastructure too, and vehicles like the Tesla Roadster carry a portable charger to enable plugging into to any ordinary power socket.

The only real concern here is recharge time making all-electric entrants less competitive in terms of overall speed.

Re:Less exciting (2, Informative)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806876)


The Tesla doesn't have 4 seats or the cargo capacity, so it is out from the start.

Re:Less exciting (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806920)

Tesla Roadster carry a portable charger to enable plugging into to any ordinary power socket.
An infrastructure and charger in place to give the tesla 600-8000 mile range (What I get out of my TDI) in 10 minutes (5 if I use the larger Semi nozzles).

It should be run like 'cannon ball run'. You drive non stop first team wins. I bet the winners will be in CA before Tesla is done with their second charge.

Re:Less exciting (1)

redxxx (1194349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806906)

But, there are strong(ish) market pressures to design and develop just this type of vehicle, and it will likely be about refinement rather than innovation, because plenty of platforms close to this already exist. I don't know, it seems like something plain old market pressure would bring about eventually, without the need for the x-prize. I hell, I doubt this would even have much of an effect on the car driving public, as I doubt it will get highly fuel efficient cars to market any sooner. It kinda seems like an X-Prize for making a really big, flat, HD TV. Companies are going to throw money at it anyway, they don't need to be inspired to do it. It does kinda set a benchmark for what is wanted, give designers specific goals, but I just don't think it'll matter too much.

please (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806320)

enough with the xprizes. Do they ever amount to anything ?

Car Must Be 100 MPG+ (5, Informative)

Zabu (589690) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806330)

Not mentioned in the summary.

Re:Car Must Be 100 MPG+ (4, Informative)

Tyndmyr (811713) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806616)

Also not mentioned...10Mil prize. Not bad at all, though I suspect that if a car that efficient could be designed for that price, it probably already would exist. Also, the prize is split between "mainstream" and "alternative" cars. The above restriction was for the mainstream category, which I imagine will be acheived later.

Re:Car Must Be 100 MPG+ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806738)

One other requirement that would be nice: if the cars could use SUVs as a source of fuel that would be awesome.

At least (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806332)

The requirements are reasonably realistic as far as the car specs go. Sounds like an ordinary mid-sized sedan to me. Let's hope we get some good entrants!

Re:At least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806402)

"The winning car must 'carry four or more passengers and have climate control, an audio system and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. They also must have four or more wheels, hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds and have a minimum top speed of 100 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles"

I think pretty much any modern car with a decent engine can handle that. Maybe a hummer?

Re:At least (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806830)

If you can find me a Hummer that gets 100+ MPG, I'll buy it from you.

Re:At least (2, Informative)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806672)

Summary didn't mention the 100+ MPG requirement. That makes it an actual challenge.

Eat YOUR SHORTS slashdot !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806334)


Eat YOUR SHORTS slashdot !!

uncouth?

Fuel Restrictions? (3, Insightful)

ryanguill (988659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806340)

I think this is great and is going to have a lot more impact on our daily lives than the space prize. It does seem like quite a challenge though. Are there any restrictions on the type of fuel though? Does it have to use regular gas? Can it use anything that can be measured in gallons?

Re:Fuel Restrictions? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806560)

I imagine it must be regular gas. The car must be production-ready and "consumer friendly." It's also race cross-country, so refueling with anything but regular gas every few hundred miles would be quite a hassle.

Re:Fuel Restrictions? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806802)

Actually I'm completely wrong [slashdot.org] .

MPG? (4, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806350)

carry four or more passengers and have climate control, an audio system and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. They also must have four or more wheels, hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds and have a minimum top speed of 100 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles.

My car does that now. The summary left out the most important piece of information: the car must get 100 MPG or more.

Re:MPG? (2, Insightful)

Marc Desrochers (606563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806468)

Let's not forget the other important aspect of this competition; the award is also for the most "production ready" car. COming up with a 100MPG car is one thing, but make it inexpensive enough to mass produce is the real objective here.

Re:MPG? (4, Funny)

mnmn (145599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806536)

Are those American passengers or Japanese?

That'll make quite a difference.

Re:MPG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806648)

Considerably - I'm 6'4" and weigh just over 250lbs - and I go to the gym not every day but almost. I could stand to lose some weight - but I'm built up like a rugby player.

I'd suspect I'm at least twice as big as the average Japanese - even though i probably weigh less than the average american

Re:MPG? (0, Offtopic)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806704)

Considerably - I'm 6'4" and weigh just over 250lbs - and I go to the gym not every day but almost. I could stand to lose some weight - but I'm built up like a rugby player.

I'd suspect I'm at least twice as big as the average Japanese - even though i probably weigh less than the average american


Man. Americans aren't that fat. On average.

(Not that I'm saying you're fat, but over 250 lbs on most people would be.)

Re:MPG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806770)

The average weight is 70 pounds less than that.

Re:MPG? (1)

mikelu (120879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806826)

Or Americans and [insert any other nationionality]. What we in the states really need is a car that auto-liposuctions and runs off of the fat...

100-mpg vehicle ! (2, Informative)

Eric Pierce (636318) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806356)

The summary fails to mention that the goal is a 100-mpg vehicle! Kind of need that in the summary or the TITLE.

ER

Abuse of rules (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806364)

Unless they add in a stipulation for some kind of 'maintained speed', I can think of dozens of ways to abuse the rules ...

Re:Abuse of rules (2, Insightful)

Alexpkeaton1010 (1101915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806582)

From TFA:

Those that qualify will race their vehicles in cross-country races in 2009 and 2010 that will combine speed, distance, urban driving and overall performance.

You could abuse the rules, but will you still win the race?

technology advances (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806366)

I think battery technology is advancing fast enough to make the listed criteria too easily attainable by 2010 or 2011. Why not make the requirements difficult so as to promote some really groundbreaking new technology. The criteria as set is essentially the same as needed for a comercially viable pure electric (assuming the price is competitive too....) I think that an "X" prize should be at the very limits of technology, this one is more of a "P" prize.

No Batteries Allowed (2, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806474)

I had the same reaction when I read the summary, but on reading the article it sounds like the car is required to use gasoline. If not, how would they convert their 100 mpg requirement into electric-car terms? I can imagine several possibilities, but none seem really neutral.

It's not really fair (or in the spirit of the competition) to disallow electric cars, but it's not fair to say they get infinite mpg, either. Do we measure their cost in electricity, or in fossil fuel burning to generate that power? That would be difficult, since it varies from market to market. Instead, it sounds like the X people are just banning them.

Note: I only read the CNN article. If someone finds more specific information on electrics, let me know.

Re:No Batteries Allowed (5, Informative)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806622)

http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/auto/prize-details/draft-guidelines [progressiv...xprize.org]

Fuel economy (energy efficiency): at least 100 Miles per gallon of gasoline energy equivalent (Mpge)

Vehicles must use AXP-supplied fuel during performance tests and races. A limited number of representative fuels will be provided. This will neutralize fuel gaming, and allow us to focus on viable fuels that are available in the marketplace to a level of our satisfaction. At this point, we expect to provide gasoline, diesel, electricity, natural gas, bio-diesel, and E85

Re:No Batteries Allowed (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806674)

Awesome. I'd mod you up if I could, because that's important information.

Re:No Batteries Allowed (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806958)

Damn, I was hoping for Mr. Fusion.

Why not water, sand, dirt, wind, or the sun?

Why 100 mph minimum speed? (0)

bihoy (100694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806372)

Speed limits are well below that.
Wouldn't 75 or 80 mph allow for a more feasible result?

Re:Why 100 mph minimum speed? (5, Insightful)

norkakn (102380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806410)

It's really not fun to drive a car near its maximum speeds. (Acceleration goes to hell). And, at some point, someone will probably want to go 75 up a hill.

Re:Why 100 mph minimum speed? (2, Insightful)

Falstius (963333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806504)

I suspect your reasoning is right, but it is also forward looking to have a 100MPH top speed. As more automated controls are added to cars, highway speeds of 100MPH would be reasonable.

Re:Why 100 mph minimum speed? (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806728)

I suspect your reasoning is right, but it is also forward looking to have a 100MPH top speed. As more automated controls are added to cars, highway speeds of 100MPH would be reasonable.
Is 100 mph reasonable on the Autobahn?

Re:Why 100 mph minimum speed? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806994)

I'm not really sure what you are trying to ask. 100 MPH is a reasonable speed for the German Autobahn (at a glance it appears that the generic recommended speed is 130 km/s which is slower). Most other roads have speed limits far short of 100 MPH.

Re:Why 100 mph minimum speed? (2, Informative)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806562)

Sometimes you need acceleration, even at relatively high speeds.
For that you need power.

More power increases the top speed.

crosscountry urban ? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806380)

So you test cars designed for an urban environment by sending them into a cross country race ? and people wonder why American auto makers have lost their way, perhaps they could test the space shuttle by seeing how well it performs as a boat

Already there, if you drive it right (2, Interesting)

Thoguth (203384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806392)

This guy [motherjones.com] got 180 mpg out of a Honda Insight on a 20-mile urban course in the rain, using energy-conserving driving techniques.

Re:Already there, if you drive it right (1, Funny)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806842)

He also has to drive like a total asshole to do it. I appreciate his dedication to gaming the MPG counter on his car, but he's going to kill someone eventually, and if I was in his neighborhood I'm sure he'd drive me crazy when I end up behind him while he's creeping home at 15mph.

environmentally friendly? (2, Insightful)

Eric Pierce (636318) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806400)

"The environmentally friendly technologies created as a result of this competition will affect everyone who drives in ways we can't even imagine today," X Prize Chairman and Chief Executive Dr. Peter Diamandis said in a statement.

There's nothing environmentally friendly about the production and use of ANY vehicle. I think "environmentally less-destructive" may be more appropriate way to phrase this.

EP

Re:environmentally friendly? (1)

shlepp (796599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806572)

we can always make the cars out of used Popsicle sticks and chewing gum, and save some garbage in the process.

Re:environmentally friendly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806824)

Go eat some tofu and granola and go back to ignoring the real world, without drastic change to the lifestyles of everyone (totalitarianism anyone) a vehicle for transportation of people and cargo will remain necessary long into the future.

100 MPH? (0, Redundant)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806438)

What is the point of an efficient car having a top speed of 100 MPH? How many places in the world is it even legal to drive that fast--much less safe? Does anyone else find that requirement a bit silly?

Re:100 MPH? (2, Insightful)

c_forq (924234) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806570)

If you've ever driven a car at its top speed you would know. You don't want to make the top speed the highest speed you expect people to travel. In this case they probably want to allow the driver to go 70 mph up a hill.

Re:100 MPH? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806620)

Ever drive a car near its top speed? For long drives you don't want to run the car near its extremes. You'll wear out the car very quickly and you probably won't enjoy the ride.

Re:100 MPH? (5, Insightful)

AGMW (594303) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806670)

How many places in the world is it even legal to drive that fast--much less safe?

Well, Germany springs to mind, Ohio during the day (was it Ohio that has unrestricted speed limits during the day - or have they revoked that rule already!).

Is it safe? The Government, well ours in the UK anyway, have been doing a great job trying to make people think that speed is somehow inherently dangerous. Heads up folks ... it isn't!
On a (reasonably) clear motorway in good weather in a well maintained car and 100MPH is actually fine. On the other side of the coin, 20MPH outside a junior school at chucking out time may well be the posted speed limit but could be way to fast! This is the basic reason why most people have no respect for the law when it comes to speed limits - 99.9% of the time the posted limit isn't appropriate, and yet they try and enforce the limits 100% of the time - exactly who are you protecting by giving a ticket to someone passing a school (often now a 20 limit in the UK) at 25 or 30 MPH at midnight? It's farcical!

We've had variable speed limits on the M25 for years now ... why not have a 15MPH limit by schools when it's the times that the kids arrive and leave school (in mummy's humvee usually!), 20MPH for the rest of a normal school day, + 1hr either side of school time, and 30MPH (or whatever is the prevailing limit in the area) the rest of the time?

Re:100 MPH? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806878)

...Ohio during the day (was it Ohio that has unrestricted speed limits during the day - or have they revoked that rule already!).

As someone who has driven across Ohio on I-80 on a couple of occasions, it at least isn't the case on that road, much to my chagrin. (It's something like 4 hours across it at 65 mph, which is over a third of the time from my current home to my parents'.

Re:100 MPH? (2, Informative)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806952)

That was Montana from 1995-1999 [us-highways.com] .

Re:100 MPH? (1)

TnkMkr (666446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806694)

The 100mph on a flat surface is metric for driving the available power to the wheels of the vehicle. Power required at the wheels is driven by many factors including, vehicle weight, aero drag, road incline, current vehicle acceleration demand, and rolling resistance.

The power required to maintain 100mph does not take into account power draws for road incline or vehicle acceleration. So the idea is to drive the designed power output of the drivetrain, such that reserves exist to allow for desired levels of acceleration and speed on inclines when operating the vehicle at speeds of 25-65mph (typical operation).

Now they could have defined the requirments as 45mph on a 3% grade, 55mph on a 2% grade, minimum acceleration time between 0-60mph, 0-30 mph, and 30-60mph, but I believe they just simplified it down to having a maximum speed of 100 mph.

A top speed requirment will also, possibly, drive aerodynamic improvements on the car.

I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806448)

Recently, I have examined an implementation of something that seems very simple and very effective. It reads to me as "too good to be true" and yet I can't presently see what's wrong with it.

The technology is essentially "use electrolysis to split hydrogen and oxygen from water and feed that into your fuel system as a supplement." The vehicle I saw this on had been running it for about 6 to 8 weeks. It consisted of a couple of mason jars, some simple hardware and hoses tapping into the existing fuel system of the vehicle. (If it helps to know, it was a 6 cylinder minivan with a fairly heavy load of tools inside at all times.) This vehicle is now getting approximately 46 miles per gallon of gasoline.

As to emissions, I could smell none. There was exhaust, but I couldn't smell anything at all... just warmed, slightly damp, air. It has been said that the hydrogen combustion does things to the gasoline combustion that helps create a more complete burn or something to that end reducing carbon build-up. (In my mind, the laws of conservation of matter register telling me carbon is still there, but I am uncertain what form it may be taking... carbon-dioxide? carbon-monoxide?)

I don't claim to know and understand all of what's going on and my "snake oil" warning lights are flashing. So I pose this somewhat relevant question to the really smart people here on Slashdot:

Why is this a bad idea?

Re:I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (1)

ryanguill (988659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806478)

where is the energy coming from to perform the electrolysis? Is it coming from the alternator that is running off of the gasoline? If not you need to factor that into the energy usage as well, MPG isn't the only measurement you have to look at.

Re:I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806546)

It's coming from the battery through the fuse box.

Re:I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (3, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806710)

The energy gained from the hydrogen combustion will be less than the energy expended in the electrolysis. It's as simple as that. No system is 100% efficient, so you must lose some energy in the process of extracting the hydrogen from the water. If the hydrogen generator were plugged into the wall you could argue that the gains coming from the electricity used were greater than spending the equivalent money on petrol rather than electricity, even factoring in the inherent losses from the process, but inside the car's system all the energy ultimately comes from the petrol anyway.

I no very little about the chemistry involved in adding hydrogen to the combustion of petrol, so I can't say what (if any) impact it could have on emissions, but the physics of the situation mean that you must be expending more fuel overall than you would without the system.

Re:I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (1)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806950)

I think some people are too quick to dismiss this based on the argument that the laws of thermodynamics say that it can't work. But they don't take into account that ICEs are only like 25% efficient, so it would seem that it is at least feasible that there could be some synergistic (sorry for the buzzword) effect that could increase the overall combustion efficiency even if the hydrogen itself was a net loss.

I am not saying that I am convinced that it does work, but just that it cannot be dismissed out of hand using only conservation of energy arguments.

Water4gas Scam Reviewed (2, Informative)

bihoy (100694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806510)

Is Water4gas a scam or does it increase your mpg using cutting edge techniques?
A Certified Master Mechanics review of the water4gas system.

http://www.auto-facts.org/water4gas-scam.html [auto-facts.org]

Re:I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806600)

I don't know about this particular system, whether it is bullshit or not. Truckers have been using a system where alternator power is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and both are then pumped into the engine. It not only makes it burn cleaner, but increases MPG as well. Look up the real system online.

Electrolysis needs fuel (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806666)

You're putting in fuel at two different places. How hard is this to see?

Re:I'm looking for reasons against "Water4Gas" (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806908)

In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!

x prize (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806460)

Put a tree... butt.. etc.

Three Wheels? (1)

lancelotlink (958750) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806488)

I don't know if a 3 wheeled vehicle would be a non efficient platform or couldn't cope with all the other requirements, but if they're looking for something extraordinary, why limit themselves with something like "Must have 4 or more wheels"?

Re:Three Wheels? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806688)

My guess is they want something consumers will easily accept. The closer to today's common vehicle, the more likely people will buy it.

Re:Three Wheels? (2, Insightful)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806692)

I'm no expert, but it would seem to me that three-wheeled vehicles would be more prone to flipping in an accident or tight turn.

Re:Three Wheels? (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806808)

Bad summary. RTFA, they have two categories - one for normal cars, one for alternative models.

Re:Three Wheels? (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806912)

I don't know if a 3 wheeled vehicle would be a non efficient platform or couldn't cope with all the other requirements, but if they're looking for something extraordinary, why limit themselves with something like "Must have 4 or more wheels"?
I question this limitation, as well. Three wheels means less resistance on the road than four tires. Also, 3-wheeled vehicles in many states count as "motorcycles" and are way cheaper to insure as a result. The Aptera (http://www.aptera.com/) is an example of this.

Re:Three Wheels? (1)

Rampantbaboon (946107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22807016)

Dude, nobody wants a Robin.

EVER.

hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds? (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806502)

hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds
My 1981 Rabbit Diesel literally took 45 seconds to go 0 to 60, and couldn't go over 75 mph without a hill or tailwind -- so I'm guessing it's not going to win this. On the other hand, it did get 52 mph if you drove it right -- not ultra-efficient, but not bad at all for a real world car, especially considering that it was made 27 years ago.


I hated that car at the time (gas was cheap, and I was a teenager), but I think I'd feel differently about it now if I could have it back :/

Re:hit 60 miles per hour in less than 12 seconds? (1)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806822)

I hated that car at the time (gas was cheap, and I was a teenager), but I think I'd feel differently about it now if I could have it back :/
You can
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1981-VOLKSWAGON-RABBIT-LS-4-dr-DIESEL-MANUAL-RESTORED_W0QQitemZ320228558143QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item320228558143 [ebay.com]

realistic specs?? (2, Interesting)

egburr (141740) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806506)

I would love to get 100 MPG, but why do they require acceleration to 60 in 12 seconds? 15-20 seconds would be just fine. And more importantly, why do they require a minimum top speed of 100 MPH? 80 MPH would be more than sufficient for 99.99% of roads worldwide. I'd be happy with 100 MPG even if I could never get it over 75 MPH. Of course I'd be happy if most of the cars on the highway would drive the same speed, instead of having some people driving slow in the fast lanes and other people constantly swerving across lanes to maintain their speed 10-20 MPH over the general traffic flow. I'm not advocating artificially restricting the speed capabilities; I'm just questioning why they make such a high speed (that only police cars and people running from police cars need) a requirement.

Re:realistic specs?? (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806632)

I was thinking the same thing, I drive a fairly fuel-efficient car (~50mpg US) which does 0-60 in 14s, it's perfectly fine for city and motorway.

How often do drivers actually use the full acceleration of the car, anyway?

Re:realistic specs?? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806872)

California, at least, has a law that requires you to merge with freeway traffic at something similar to freeway speeds. In the space of a freeway on-ramp, you should be able to accelerate to ~60 mph. Otherwise, you cause traffic and safety issues for other drivers.

Re:realistic specs?? (1)

Enleth (947766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806922)

Rarely, but when you need it - well, you really NEED it. Sometimes the only way to escape a high-speed collision or a very bad skid is to accelerate, not to brake, and you certainly wouldn't want yor car to be at its maximum power already.

Re:realistic specs?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806834)

I think the point is that they are shooting for a car with high economy that __doesn't sacrifice anything__. Anything less, and people won't ditch their SUVs. Otherwise you hear people whining about, "It doesn't have enough power," or "its too cramped" or whatever excuse they use to keep driving their 8mpg gas hog.

Re:realistic specs?? (1)

fgouget (925644) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806980)

And more importantly, why do they require a minimum top speed of 100 MPH? 80 MPH would be more than sufficient for 99.99% of roads worldwide.
I'm glad to learn that France and Germany, to cite just those two, represent less than 0.01% of the roads worldwide. Even if that's the case, I don't see why they would be so much less important than the 0.04% represented by the US roads. See in France the highest speed limit is 80.8mph and people routinely drive at that speed, even normal people who are neither thieves running from the police, nor cops running after them. And in Germany large swaths of the motorways have no speed limit at all. So in either case a car that can barely reach 80mph for a few minutes and only in ideal conditions is not going to cut it.

I'd be happy with 100 MPG even if I could never get it over 75 MPH.
Right, that would be fine for a city car, great even. But then people would have to have a second car for longer trips and that's no good for the environment (due to waste and energy expanded to build the second car), impractical for anyone living in densely populated areas due to limited parking, too expensive for a good portion of the population, etc. In other words it would be a fine achievement, but one with applicability limited to a small part of the market. It's also a niche that's easier to serve with all-electric vehicles for instance, so it's kind of half-solved already. And it's clearly the target of the 'alternative cars' category anyway.

I could do that... (4, Insightful)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806576)

Just modify an old Volkswagen TDI. The problem is making a 100MPG car that meets the USA safety and emissions standards. The car that results from this challenge won't be practical for those two simple reasons.

Draft Guidelines (3, Informative)

ryanguill (988659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806588)

Draft Guidelines can be found here: http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/auto/prize-details/draft-guidelines [progressiv...xprize.org] [PDF Warning]

Re:Draft Guidelines (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806764)

Mod up please so others may read the rules! Note: This is referring to a draft of the rules not drafting other cars (like in NASCAR).

Audio system (1)

PaulG.1 (1198147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806598)

"must have an audio system ..." And how vague can that be? I can hook up my iPod Shuttle to speakers and call it an "audio system".

Nitpicking but... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806640)

for a commercially viable car (which I assume they are going for), shouldn't the range be more like 300 miles? 200 seems a little low for some reason and the lowest range I got on any number of gasoline cars was maybe 260-280....

Re:Nitpicking but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806944)

200 miles would allow 3 hours of highway driving between fill-ups, not a particular hardship even on road trips. It is also more than sufficient for almost any commuting needs, and most long commuters would pass a gas station regularly anyway. I for one would rather do twice as many $10-15 fill ups as $40-50 fill ups.

Missing specification (4, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806644)

"...and have a minimum top speed of 100 miles per hour..."

Do they say how high the cliff is allowed to be?

Gas turbines vs reciprocating (1)

bigdanmoody (599431) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806686)

Seeing as how gas turbines are already so much more efficient than standard reciprocating engines, I would be interested to see a hybrid that runs the alternators with a gas turbine. A very small turbine would be adequate for the task. I suppose the problems would be the noise levels and the increased maintenance costs, with the benefits of increased efficiency and the ability to run on just about any liquid fuel available.

Re:Gas turbines vs reciprocating (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806788)

Small gas turbines might be smooth, but efficient they are most definitely NOT. Reciprocating engines are miles ahead of turbines in terms of thermodynamic efficiency.

Gas turbines only start getting efficient when you're talking about a Rolls-Royce Trent 700 or a GE90.

Uh (1)

j.a.mcguire (551738) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806696)

Is something missing, what's the point in this? Doesn't just about every car in existance cover this criteria? I'll just debadge my Fiat Punto take it along and say I invented it.

X Prize Cars (1, Informative)

EricBoyd (532608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806720)

I've been chronicling the Automotive X Prize for months over at X Prize Cars [xprizecars.com] . At X Prize Cars you can read about the various teams, Compare many of them side-by-side [xprizecars.com] , and follow the news. The most impressive are of course the Tesla [xprizecars.com] , Aptera [xprizecars.com] , and the FuelVapor Technologies [xprizecars.com] , which is actually on exhibit here at the New York Auto Show. But many other teams have cool cars as well - and it's still early, the official entry process is due to be announced today! Also, if you're curious about the rules, I have a handy AXP rules summary [xprizecars.com] page.

Re:X Prize Cars (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806816)

How can the Aptera even qualify? It doesn't have enough wheels (it needs 4 or more, I count only three).

2 real world requirements (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22806740)

There really should be 2 more requirements for this prize to make it practical in the real world:
1). Should be able to pass a minimal crash safety test.
2). Should have a reasonable mass production cost.

Easy (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806742)

Just make sure it doesnt use liquids or a gallon volume of whatever fuel it needs.

What is the maximum achievable efficiency? (1)

jopet (538074) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806798)

Has anyone better in physics than me already calculated what is the maximum theoretically achievable efficiency?
Would be interesting to see how close we already are.

Rule summary (3, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806910)

Here is a brief summary of the rules as taken from the draft on X-Prise website. [xprize.org]
Fuel economy >100MPGe
4+ passengers
Must meet US EPA Tier II bin 5
Must meet US safety regulations
Must have features considered standard in today's automobiles at a cost that is not prohibitively expensive, and must provide a business case proving so.

There should be another qualification... (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806946)

It should be a vehicle that enough people would buy to be practical to build. And 200 miles is NOT enough.

water 4 gas (4, Informative)

xj (958167) | more than 6 years ago | (#22806948)

Well conservation of energy for one. The energy required to split water in to hydrogen and oxygen is greater than the energy you get from burning it otherwise we'd all have perpetual motion machines running in our back yard.

Flow rate.
Say an engine has a displacement of 3 liters and is operating at 2000 rpm.
3 liters * 2000 rpm /2 (as this is a 4 stroke engine) * .85 (assume this is not turbo charged so the cylinder is never completely full) = 2550 liters of air per min.

the electric power required to electrolyze the hydrogen equivalent to 1 gallon of gasoline is equal to (500 moles) x (0.06587 kWh/mole) = 32.935 kWh, and the approximate cost of that power = (32.935 kWh)
credit to this site http://www.stardrivedevice.com/electrolysis.html [stardrivedevice.com]

How much current can you alternator put out? Maybe 100 amps. How much hydrogen could your car generate per min? How much power can your alternator produce 100A *13.7V 1.37 KW

How much hydrogen could your car produce per min?
1.37 * (.06587 kWh/mole) / 60min/hr * 22.4 liters/mol = 0.033 liters of hydrogen per min
Compare this to the number above for the volume of air entering the engine.

How much hydrogen would one need to run a vehicle?

If 500 mol of hydrogen = 1 gallon of gasoline
If the vehicle gets 30 mpg at 60 mph = 2 gallons of gasoline per hr or 1000 mol of hydrogen per hr * 22.4 liters / mol / 60 min / hr = 373 lites per min of hydrogen

Compare this to the number above.
If anything all those hydrogen generator scams are going to do is create a vacuum leak that will turn on your check engine light.
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