Photo: Grant Hutchison http://flickr.com/photos/splorp/
Good gas mileage is getting to be almost as sexy as convertibles. A hundred miles a gallon. We’ll look, today on Engineering Works!
Professional and amateur engineers from 60 countries have signed on to an earth-bound competition modeled on the X-prize for commercial space flight. The prize is a big one — $10 million. Instead of space, the goal this time is 100 miles a gallon.
The hopeful automotive engineers are working with all sorts of technology to drive their vehicles. From high-efficiency gasoline engines to hydrogen fuel cells and – ready for this? – compressed air, the stuff that inflates your tires. One team has gotten 92 miles per gallon from gasoline fumes. They’re still working on that extra eight miles a gallon.
And it’s not just the big guys. A team from Cornell University has entered and so has one from an inner city high school in Philadelphia.
So far none of the major American automakers have signed on to the competition. Some foreign companies are interested. Others, like Volkswagen, aren’t. They fielded a 100 miles per gallon car back in 2001 and aren’t interested in doing it again. By the way, that car, the Lupo, is no longer in production.
The only automobile company to enter so far is a Silicon Valley startup, Tesla Motors. Tesla already makes a high-performance electric sports car that gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon. Of course, it also costs $98 thousand.
We’re getting a lot less than 100 miles per gallon these days, and we’re about out of gas. See you next time.
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