March 25th, 2008
Ford Prodigy, cutaway view of a ‘concept’ car we could someday be able to buy… maybe. Or not.
The 100 miles per gallon car. One that carries four adults, has all the safety features that protect in accidents but weigh a lot. Peter Diamandis’ X Prize Foundation has turned their focus from space travel to automobiles. The automotive X Prize went live in April of 2007 at the New York Auto Show with a $10 million award to the winning designers of a production-ready vehicle capable of exceeding 100 mpg.
It’s not that hard to get 100 miles per gallon if you don’t mind a seriously “minimalist” vehicle. Heck, if you make it lighter than a motorbike and gin it up with solar cells, it’s not that hard to get 1,000 miles per gallon (downhill, with a tailwind, driver lying flat). But the solar cell idea isn’t that bad, now that we hear there are new plastic coatings that will generate even in low-light situations. And what about a hood scoop to use the wind of forward motion to help charge those batteries too?
Here’s hoping that a 100 mpg production vehicle that meets all safety and practical criteria does get invented. That of course won’t necessarily convince Detroit to actually make any of them, and it’s a sure bet that any designers who use the $10 million to gear up their own factory will be held to a strict quota on how few of the vehicles they’ll actually be able to produce per year (corporate welfare to Detroit). Heck, GM is still sitting on their new diesel engine (joint patent with EPA) developed years ago, that can get 60+ mpg on biodiesel. They’ll never deploy it until America demands it.
Meanwhile, Toyota’s selling more hybrids than Detroit is selling anything, though the tax incentives have sunset and the import lid is still screwed on tight. What does it take to convince these old robber barons that we need the technology they’ve been sitting on just so nobody can have it? When do we get our 100 mpg hybrids? At what point do we taxpayers quit bailing them out of their stupid decisions and let them die the death they’ve so richly deserved since the 1970s?
Other sources tell us 100 mpg hybrids already exist – but you have to build them yourself. Guess I need to get me and my ‘vintage’ diesel Mercedes into an auto shop class down at the local community college, see if I can’t convert it into an SVO-Electric hybrid using that hood scoop idea and some nice new solar cells the college can probably order at cost… we could all learn the mechanics and details, open a conversion shop, and have about half the locals in 100 mpg’s before 2010!