Warehouse B
Creating Better Cars
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Race Is On To Build A 100 Mile-Per-Gallon Car


By James Donahue


Auto-engineers and back-yard mechanics around the world are testing their skills this year to develop the first practical car that can be mass-produced, emits almost no pollutants and gets at least 100-miles-per gallon.


That’s the $10 million challenge by X Prize Foundation, a California-based non-profit group committed to stimulate technological development through competition.


The competition calls for vehicles that meet significant energy and emissions goals of at least 100 miles per gallon or its equivalent, no matter what kind of fuel is burned. Thus the guidelines set a new standard of MPGe, which takes into account energy equivalents when calculating the mileage.


Building a car that goes a long way on a gallon of gasoline is only the beginning of the challenge. Weird-looking contraptions have already been produced that get over 250 miles to a gallon of gasoline, but the foundation is demanding much more from inventors this time around. They say vehicles will be judged on specific market production criteria like safety, cost, features and business plan. The prize is open only to the development of practicable cars capable of reaching the marketplace.


These cars must carry four passengers.


They also must stand up to two rigorous long-distance races set to be held in 2009. The first race will be a qualifying round and the grand prize final will test the vehicles under real-world driving requirements and conditions.


To win, vehicles must complete both races with the lowest overall time averaged over all scoring stages while still meeting the prize requirements for fuel economy and emissions.


As one promotional report stated it, “the overall purpose is to capture the public’s imagination and to solve economic, international and environmental problems.”


As Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation put it: “we need practical, safe and fuel-efficient vehicles on the road.”


What Diamandis didn’t say and most of us secretly know, is that the foundation is trying to force world inventors to do what the automobile companies are failing to produce . . . cars that will help solve the problems of greenhouse gas emissions and peak oil while there is still time.