Monday, September 27, 2010

Like the General Lee but Less Hazardous to Planet With 100-plus MPG

X-Prize Winning Car: Like the General Lee but Less Hazardous to Planet With 100-plus MPG
Kit Eaton
Thu Sep 16, 2010

Half of the $10 million prize fund for the fuel efficiency Automotive X-Prize is being handed to the team behind The Very Light Car--the vehicle has beaten the competition's target of 100 miles per gallon efficiency.

Team Edison2's creation, the Very Light Car is specially constructed and to save weight it has no doors (with heavy hinges and locking mechanisms) so you have to scoot through the windows like Bo and Luke Duke had to. But that's where the similarity to the gas-guzzling General Lee ends: The highly aerodynamic vehicle has wind-shrouds over its tires and weighs a mere 840 pounds on the road, both of which help it with its phenomenal fuel efficiency (for comparison the top-selling, well-known and supposedly eco-friendly 2010 Toyota Prius manages just 50 MPG--half the VLC's ability).

We're particularly taken with the look of the thing. It's by no means conventional, nor is it approaching the sort of design and engineering requirements a real, sale-worthy road-going car would need (although it's got heating, ventilation and passed some of the tests required for a car to go on sale in the U.S.). But it looks extraordinary--much more attractive than the odd electric Aptera, with which it shares some design cues. And this, more than anything, helps it promote the notion of alternative power and alternative design in cars which might help more eco-friendly cars race onto the market. That's also one of the goals of the automotive X-Prize itself. As X-Prize's Peter Diamandis puts it, the goal is to publicly demonstrate an alternative, eco-conscious cat that is "beautiful, affordable, fast, safe" and green.

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