Fuel Efficiency Is in Style

By September 17, 2010

How do you make a highly fuel efficient car that looks cool, and appeals to the average consumer?  If you are the X-Prize Foundation, you would have a competition offering a $5,000,000 prize for anyone who makes a really cool car that can also get 100 mpg and meets other requirements intended to push it along the path to mass production.  The Progressive Automotive X-Prize was awarded yesterday to three teams, who shared the $10 million in prize money.

The Mainstream category prize of $5 Million was awarded to The Edison2 team who created the “Very Light Car,” which weighs 800- pounds and gets 100-miles to the gallon…
…and it is pretty blue with doors the open in a really cool way.

What? Who cares if it’s pretty?  Well, it surely does matter whether it’s pretty. Who wants to buy a car that is ugly? And who buys a car they don’t want?  One reason the X-Prize Foundation choose to create this competition to demonstrate that fuel efficiency can be fun to drive, cool to look at and worthy of your neighbor’s envy.

Beautiful blue car with doors that open straight up, the Very Light Car is attractive beyond just its fuel Beautiful blue car with doors that open straight up, the Very Light Car is attractive beyond just its fuel effciency.
Photo from the Edison2 team website

Another motivation of the X-Prize Foundation is to speed up the rate of development of highly fuel efficient cars. And as many of the X-Prize competing team members say, that the competition has actually done that.

How this prize affects car development?

The various team members agree that fuel efficient technology development is accelerated by this X-Prize.  In the above video they give concrete examples about how it has helped them, motivated them and changed their research plans and methods.  We all hope that significantly more fuel efficient cars, whether they be gasoline powered, like The Very Light Car, or whether they be electric powered, as some of the other X-Prize winners.

The Department of Energy, as well as Congress have put their support behind The Automotive X-Prize.  Educational materials for K-12 students can be found on the Department of Energy Fuel Our Future Now website.

We hope the increased awareness and accelerated technology pay off in great increases in fuel efficiency.  What do you think?

Categories: Earth Systems, Energy