The intention and purpose of the Progressive Automotive X-Prize could actually not be higher… to simply see who could produce a vehicle that could achieve a 100mpg rating without cluttering up the atmosphere with noxious gasses.
The Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize Competition
Lewis M. Dickens III
This is a noble cause.
The Three Wheeled Vehicles:
Looking for all the world like something that Burt Rutan might have designed is the Aptera sans a pair of rear outriggers like the Edison’s. The coachwork is smooth and slick and obviously slippery aerodynamically. This Vehicle is nicely executed. Its Aerodynamic efficiency is reflected in its mileage.
Since the Zap and the Aptera come out of California it’s interesting to see the different interpretations. Here we see something out of Hollywood fit for a movie like Tron.
One must not forget that 3 wheeled vehicles are essentially motorcycles and are very dangerous. Seeing the Aptera in a breaking test do a 180 is a bit scary.
Here is the vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show in January:
Notice the huge rear tire well over a foot wide maybe 18”… it’ enormous! Great for Hollywood and good looks, but it was not used in the tests. Sort of like a body part augmentation common in that neck of the woods. Its performance was the least of the three wheelers.
The Edison 2
Mainstream Class winner of $5,000,000.
Economy: 102.5 MPGe
Fuel: E85 Ethanol
Gizmag had good coverage on the “Mainstream Class” winner on Sept 20th.
Surprisingly there were no other vehicles in the finals in this class.
I totally overlooked the Edison vehicles because they looked like a modern day Piper Cub sans Wings and I felt that the outrigger wheels were exceedingly dangerous This is a catamaran. The thought of a Semi taking out the wheels is an exceedingly terrifying prospect. It seemed to me also that they could have found a muffler that would quiet the hideous noise of the internal combustion engine version that they had and the odor that it produced.
The developer of the Edison Vehicles had it exactly right when he said that it's all about efficiency and that they had the most efficient vehicle of all in terms of weight and aerodynamics, except for the X-Tracer. He forgot to mention the Li-Ion.
EFFICIENCY is everything in the engineering world and that even applies to Wind Power.
There were some comments about its esthetics which I feel were off point. The vehicle is handsome and relatively nicely designed. The fit and finish may be off but that would be easily corrected in production but one wonders if the basic design approach could have led to enclosing the wheels within the basic body shell. Surely the Li-Ion dispels the notion that frontal area is vitally important.
Another interesting thing about the Edison vehicles is that they had a nice, wide wheelbase which meant that from a road dynamics perspective they would be very safe. Had they chosen to use 8 wheels they would have performed even better by greatly reducing the rolling resistance. I make this statement based upon the teachings and demonstrative model tests of Bill Allison, one of the all-time leading suspension designers in the Automotive Industry. More wheels mean less rolling resistance as rail cars have always shown.
I really don't believe that this design hold much for the existing auto companies. They would reject it completely for a number of reasons, one of them being safety and the other being Governmental Standards. It's the slick modern day piper cub approach. One almost expects to see a wing kit and a pusher propeller kit. But we must give the sole survivor of the mainstream class its due. While it may have a side by side seating arrangement, it does look awfully cramped.
The skinny car:
This Car out of Seattle is designed with the concept of being half the width of a normal vehicle. It is frighteningly skinny but the developers theorized that 2 side by side in a standard one highway lane could accommodate twice as much traffic in the same amount of space. It looks frighteningly unstable but I was told that there was a thick plate of steel on the bottom for ballast. Still, I would not care to be in one when it flipped regardless of the impetus.
This entry came from Thailand and was designed by an Australian Automotive engineer.
It came with a lengthy presentation on the situation of automotive safety in developing countries. Apparently the highway related death count is astronomical in some locations… totally unacceptable. It seems that the upwardly mobile have absolutely no respect for the pedestrian. Interesting to note that in the US the death count has been dropping dramatically and it was announced last month that our automobile related fatalities have dropped below the level in 1950. Obviously focusing upon a problem leads to good solutions.
The notion here is that a soft car would obviate that. As a bonus, it floats!
In this case the car is made of Styrofoam and is driven by a motor cycle engine powering one of the rear wheels. Seeing it on the track is surprising because it accelerated very quickly and braked quickly as well.
Clearly the leadership undertaken by the company is to be honored. I have switched carriers to them. And they did not pay me to say that. And when I called to suggest an efficiency competition on wind engine designs I was told that they didn’t think that it would be telegenic enough. Now what kind of person could say that? But the President picked up on it immediately and finished my sentence on world impact! ;D
The President’s car:
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