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back to article X Prize comes to earth

The X Prize Foundation - which helped kickstart commercial passenger space travel - is funding another $10m prize to find the most fuel-efficient car. The Automotive X Prize, or rather the "Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE", aims to find a realistic super-efficient vehicle. It aims to find cars which actually just go …

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Joke

Excellent.

Here I submit my design for a sedan with the back half jammed with batteries, 200psi tires, and a maximum speed of 5mph. It meets the criteria and will certainly get wonderful mileage.

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Joke

Totally barking up the wrong tree

Where's the car powered solely by beer- and curry-farts, then?

Now that would be ecological. And fun.

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Joke

But...

the speed (5 mph) will not be attractive, nor will all the batteries. So, it actually doesn't meet the criteria ;)

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5mph?

"...and should have features likely to attract the average consumer."

I hardly think a car that does 5mph would appeal to the average consumer. The average granny-mobile pavement scooter would get to the Post Office quicker (though it will still probably closed down by then...)

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Flame

RE: Excellent

It said something about "should have features likely to attract the average consumer."... You lose!

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Paris Hilton

Been done?

There is already a vehicle in production (well, it was in production until it got superseded) which I think meets all these requirements. The Honda Cub 90.

Just slap a CAT on it ay worst and bingo. US$10,000,000.

Paris - because she likes a good ride

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Good base (realistic) requirements

It's nice that this is expected to be a fully functional, marketable car, including things like air bags, space for radio, speakers, GPS, and other common inclusions. They're not building some rediculous solar racer that no one will ever drive, they're building real cars that can be mass produced with reasonable (market bearable) costs.

It's also nice that they've specified minimum speed/maximum time requirements and that the track will be long distance and through various terain, traffic conditions, and weather types. Solar and similar vehicles have distinct advanatages in some conditions, but will be heavily penalized in others, and liekly can't win. H2 vehicles will also have distinct advantages in CO2 outputs and power/performance, but will suffer badly on refueling (Actually, H2 was not a listed fuel, so X-prize is automatically, and rightly so, disqualifying hydrogen cars! YAY!). Electric only cars will also suffer in this race unless Toshiba gets together with a few compnaies and provides those cool new 90 second charging batteries. Any electric car will also be required to run flexifuel engines as a backup if I'm reading the terms of the race correctly. It's possible the engines in those cars may get worse than the standards described for CO2 output, but if it's averaged over the entire course it shuold work out.

100MPG is by no means impossible. Getting a car that can do 70PMH, accelerate with good force, go 250 miles minimum on a fill-up/charge, include modern accessories, and also be buildable at a cost the market can bear, that's not been done yet successfully. I do expect 10-20 of the 66 registrants to complete the race within goal. I expect at least 1 to exceed 120MPG.

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Boffin

Electric car, efficiant?! Pahh

They shouldn't include Electricity powered cars.

So many seem to forget where the electricity comes from, burning huge amounts of coal/gas/oil. So you get 40% efficiency at most before you've even moved the car!

Though it does move the exhaust gas hundreds of miles away so you don't notice it.

Maybe in the future, say 50 years, when the electricity supply is all made without fossil fuels (because it has run out) they could have an Electric Car X prize.

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Fuel requirements

I think people are misreading the fuel requirement section. "All cars will have to run on petrol, diesel, electricity, natural gas, bio-diesel and E85 - ethanol and petrol."

My read of this is it will have to run one of: petrol, diesel, electric, lpg, or biodiesel, also run e85 (ethanol petrol mix). This means it could be electric/e85, diesel/e85, natural gas/e85, etc.

There's no such engine that by itself can run all of these. To put all fuels under one hood would require as many as 4 engines: diesel/bio-diesel; petrol/e85/ethanol, natural gas/propane, and electric. Sure a petrol engine can be converted to run natural gas, but it has to be converted... you can't reasonably do them all...

Note Hydrogen and methane are both distinctly left out. No fuel cells need apply! I think between the rediculous cost of H2 itself, fuel cell costs, plus the dangers, costs, and logistics inherent to other proposed H2 systems (highly compressed gas dangers, solid infusion refuleing times, etc), plus the complex systems for delivery and storage logistics, the energy put in and carbon footprint of that alone, and the extreme total costs automatically disqualify all forms of it. Finally, someone noticed H2 wasn't even "in the race" as a competing technology. lol.

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@Andrew Nathanson

Andrew's got it right. Every time you convert energy from one form to another (chemical, mechanical, electrical, thermal, etc), there is some loss. You also lose about 7 percent of electricity during transmission through power lines and transformers. Evaluating the efficiency of an electric car is tricky unless you can accurately measure the amount of fuel burned at the power plant.

What ever happened to the turbine engine in cars? Aren't they much more efficient than piston engines?

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Electricity

Andrew:

Electricity can be made from Charcoal (completely renewable form of coal), water/tide power, solar power, geothermal, wind, nuclear, etc. very little of electricity need to come from fossil fuels, but that's not even the point. thie entire contest is designed to reduce dependency on oil. Power plants don't run off oil...

Also, electric generation is FAR more efficient than 40%, even from natural gas. Burning oil in the car is AT BEST 40% efficient. Energy loss over the wire can be reduced to as little as 1% using superconducting

I'm a bit surprised that air piston engines are not being considdered, but then again, they're a relatively new idea, and the race plans and restrictions are being reqritten following the public comment persion that expired in November. It may yet be included.

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Happy

Fat, lazy....

"should have features likely to attract the average consumer"

Which is what eliminates the encouragement of cycling and walking as a standard means of transportation and makes contests like this possible/necessary. Ya bunch of fat, lazy bastards.

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Honda CG125

Alternative vehicle class has had a winner for decades. >100mpg, <200g/mile, 2 passengers - that's a Honda CG125 isn't it? And with a respectable top practical speed around 60mph, too, using a conventional four-stroke petrol engine.

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Thumb Up

4 wheels and 4 passengers?

ok... 2 GSX1100's, 0-60 in seconds, 60+mpg, top speed a damned sight faster than I ever dared to get mine to do and all the bugs you can eat.

I'll have that $10mill in used £20's please.

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...afterthought

I quoted single bike mpg because over 90% (see "statistics") of all car journeys are single occupancy.

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@Michael C

"Note Hydrogen and methane are both distinctly left out."

Natural gas = methane. Distinctly included.

"Energy loss over the wire can be reduced to as little as 1% using superconducting"

While superconducting would be fantastic if it worked at environmental temperatures, thus far no such superconducting substance exists. Superconductance has thus far only been achieved by dumping large amounts of energy into keeping a material cooled to near absolute zero.

And, @Don Mitchell

"What ever happened to the turbine engine in cars? Aren't they much more efficient than piston engines?"

Gas turbine engines are typically less fuel efficient, but have a much greater power-to-weight ratio than piston engines. This makes them a good choice for aircraft, generally less so for land vehicles. I believe I read something a few months ago about Jay Leno being involved with the development of a biodiesel turbine engine powered sportscar. Could be nifty.

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Pirate

GSX's ??

To get 60+ MPG you must be driving it in VERY old fart mode

2x GSXR / R1 / Busa lumps in a production car - NOW your talking though 60+ mpg ?? - I doubt it if if I am driving it :D

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Re: Fuel requirements By Michael C

<quote>

I think people are misreading the fuel requirement section. "All cars will have to run on petrol, diesel, electricity, natural gas, bio-diesel and E85 - ethanol and petrol."

My read of this is it will have to run one of: petrol, diesel, electric, lpg, or biodiesel, also run e85 (ethanol petrol mix). This means it could be electric/e85, diesel/e85, natural gas/e85, etc.

There's no such engine that by itself can run all of these. To put all fuels under one hood would require as many as 4 engines: diesel/bio-diesel; petrol/e85/ethanol, natural gas/propane, and electric. Sure a petrol engine can be converted to run natural gas, but it has to be converted... you can't reasonably do them all...

</quote>

I downloaded the draft competition guidelines from the site referenced in the Reg. article and you are the one misreading the fuel requirement section. The PERMITTED FUELS (it is all caps in the guideline) section states that all cars must use Automotive X Prize (AXP) provided fuel. The Reg. article provided the list of fuels AXP is planning to provide. The guideline section does not state that a vehicle must run on all of them.

Your misread aside, I can name three engines that can run on all of these fuels: Steam, Sterling, and gas turbines. Steam and Sterling need an external heat source and a way to dispose of waste heat. Any of the listed fuels, even electricity, can be the heat source. Chrysler had a turbine powered car they tested in the 70's with gasoline, kerosene, diesel and according to the Chrysler museum even scotch whiskey (ethanol). Co generation systems run gas turbines on natural gas. It should be possible to replace the gas turbine engine combustion chambers with electric heating elements. I suspect you could even build a single gas turbine engine with electric heating elements and combustion chambers with injectors for liquid and gaseous fuels. Of course such a gas turbine would be silly, but then again so would powering any of these engines on electricity. Using these engines to generate electricity is not silly, in fact steam and gas turbines are used to generate electricity around the world.

Using the fuel rules in the competition guidelines it is still possible to use any of the three engines with only one fuel tank and one engine. You would have to decide between liquid fuels or natural gas. Personally I would go with the liquids since the existing fuel infrastructure can handle them and the energy density is higher than natural gas. The engine would still have a wider fuel selection than any currently mass produced automotive engine I know of.

The following quote from you was too funny to leave alone: "Note Hydrogen and methane are both distinctly left out."

From the US Department of Energy: "The main ingredient in natural gas is methane, a gas (or compound) composed of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms."

Link: http://www.eia.doe.gov/kids/energyfacts/sources/non-renewable/naturalgas.html

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Paris Hilton

Baffled

"The vehicles should be reasonably priced too, assuming production of 10,000 a year, and should have features likely to attract the average consumer"

So is this for a design or an actual production vehicle? Even I could hypothecate a design for this, but you'd have to build it to know, and if I can afford to make 10000 of them, I'm already a manufacturer!

Paris looks the way I feel...

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Boffin

Fuels

You can run a Diesel (compression ignition reciprocating) engine on just about anything if you really want to (including coal dust at a push, although I don't think anyone's tried it for over a hundred years).

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Unhappy

Efficiency not the Challenge

I think if car manufacturers really wanted to make 100MPG cars, they would. They don't make them because they think people don't want them. Economy cars today get way less mileage than they did 20 years ago (especially in the US). It makes me mad that for some reason, 30MPG seems to be portrayed as great mileage these days. Even the Civic only gets 36MPG highway these days, when you could get one closer to 50MPG in the 80s.

Someone's going to win this competition with a car that does meet all of the requirements, but still won't be sold, at least not widely, because manufacturers see actual economy as a niche market.

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big brother is watching

sounds good. until some oil company pays them 50 mill to bury it

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100 MPG = 120MPG

There's real gallons and then there's US gallons which are only .84 of a real one.

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@Sarah Baucom

the reason for the poor fuel economy of modern cars is the added weight they all have to carry around & meeting modern standards.

I for one am grateful for seatbelts, crumple zones, multiple airbags, traction control, ABS braking, toughened glass, side impact protection, power steering, de humidifying air con etc

Governments have also legislated emissions standards which resulted in engine & exhaust management systems like MAF & Lambda sensors, fuel injection, Catalytic convertors etc

i also appreciate the other modern conveniences that make my car journey more comfortable. such as a stereo, power windows, remote central locking etc.

all these safety, legislative and comfort systems add weight and reduce fuel economy.

No responsible government would allow any car of the 80's to be sold as new now.

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Silver badge
Go

Hmm.

Here's a thought.

Take one Caterham Superlight.

Install the turbot-diseasal and gearbox from one of those super-frugal Lupos.

Make up some more suitable aerodynamic fairings and a roof - nice Daytona Cobra-esque teardrop affair, perhaps?

You then have a car that will seat two, cruise at 70mph comfortably, and should get around 100mpg without having to drive it like a complete woman all the time - thanks to it weighing a good couple of hundred kilos less than the Lupo.

As an aside, if you stick a limited slip diff on it, thanks to the engines reasonably useful powerband [torqeuy diesel], leaving 11s on the road and exiting roundabouts at silly slip angles should be a doddle.

Can I have my eleventy million squid now, please?

Steven R

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@Steven Raith

Now theres a thought- I wonder how well Kit Cars stand up to emissions standards? 'specially since they use what are essentially recycled mechanicals...

Also, something like the MEV Rocket or R2 with a small Focus or Mondeo engine would be pretty sweet too- they work out at ~ 1/2 the mass of a Lupo 3L IIRC!

Back on topic, Volkswagen made a 235mpg (1ltr fuel / 100km) car that could be made into a production model- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_1-litre_car - and a 3ltr / 100km version of the Lupo that was actually sold!

So this is clearly a very achieveable prize... Any chance of El Reg sponsoring me to enter? :P

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@ Michael C

"100MPG is by no means impossible. Getting a car that can do 70PMH, accelerate with good force, go 250 miles minimum on a fill-up/charge, include modern accessories, and also be buildable at a cost the market can bear, that's not been done yet successfully. I do expect 10-20 of the 66 registrants to complete the race within goal. I expect at least 1 to exceed 120MPG."

Chevy Sprint / Geo Metro.

My brother had one. Got somewhere between 60-70 MPG.

Granted, a collision with a squirrel would total the car and mildly annoy the squirrel, but it did have great gas mileage.

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Joke

Hasn't this already been done?

Back in the "Stone Age" our friend and buddy, Fred Flintstone, had a very fuel efficient vehicle. It ran on foot power so it was VERY fuel efficient (not to mention it may have helped fight obesity).

So, does Hanna-Barbera get the prize??

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@Andrew Nathanson and Don Mitchell

Ever heard of "well to wheel" calculations and comparisons? Obviously not, from the twaddle you wrote. Try googling them and learn before you open your mouths or post comments.

In simple terms: a "well to wheel" calculation factors in the energy costs of a fuel from the source (well) to the actual output (wheel) and includes (in the case of fossil fuels) the energy required to pump the crude from the ground, transport it (in diesel-powered tanker trucks or boats usually) to the refinery, crack it (electricity required, here) into usable fuels and then transport them to the distributors (diesel-powered trucks again), pump them into the vehicles and how much energy is used/wasted in the vehicle's engine.

When the pro-electric crowd say "electricity costs less, pollutes less" they are talking in terms of *Well to Wheel* calculations, not just perceived cost and pollution savings in the vehicle itself.

Grow some brain cells and sit down and work it out one day.

Even factoring in coal-fueled power plants, the efficiency and pollution levels for electricity generation are lower than those of petrol or diesel-powered vehicles (one "engine" running at optimum output (optimum efficiency) continuously with a large exhaust management system to reduce the pollution compared with thousands of engines running at varying degrees of efficiency with exhaust systems in various states of repair); the losses in transmission of electricity do not amount to anything near the energy cost of transporting fuel from the refinery to the service station and the efficiency of electric motor systems far surpass the efficiency of internal combustion engines.

And as others have stated, not all electricity is produced in coal-fired plants. We get a lot of ours in NZ from hydro power. We also have geothermal and wind plants. Natural gas and coal-fired plants are only small contributors to our electricity.

Frankly, the best thing to do with the dwindling oil reserves - if people are insistent on burning them - is to take the "hybrid vehicle" to its extreme and build petrol or diesel-fueled power plants right next to the refineries (so the fuel does not need to be transported by road - a short pipeline would suffice) - huge batteries of super-efficient combustion engines, all running at the best efficiency you can get, driving the generators and exhausting through the most efficient carbon capture and scrubbing exhaust system you can build. Pump the electricity thus generated into the grid to be distributed by wire (no more diesel-fueled tankers) to people's homes to charge up their electric cars.

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Calculation of "cost"

I just want to know how they will calculate the "cost" (both monetary and pollution-wise) of running these babies.

A lot of the time, the cost of producing the car/engine (let alone producing the fuel afterwards) is left out of the "it's cheaper/better for the environment" section. After all, what's the point of having uber-solarcells if you need to produce 10 tons of carcinogens for the cells for each car?

And what about the costs of disposal? Remember asbestos? Real cheap to install, a bugger to dispose of.

Nah, if you want to compare properly you'd need to do a "Total Cost of Ownership": cost to build the car + cost to produce (and use) its fuel over the expected lifespan + cost to (safely) dispose of the car afterwards. And don't forget to adjust for differences in lifespan - after all, a car that has a TCO of 1.5x the competition but lasts twice as long is better value-for-money.

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Quite correct, Aubry...

And when it comes to calculating the lifecycle assessment of the power stations they even have to factor in "CO2 equivalent" of hydro electric stations due to land being flooded and unable to absorb CO2.

TCO:

When you consider that the modern high-energy-density batteries used by EVs are pretty much 100% recyclable (that's the figure quoted for all the ones I've seen) and that electric motors are good for *millions* of kilometres rather than tens or even (low) hundreds of *thousands* for the best internal combustion engines, then battery-electric vehicles start coming out quite a bit better than internal combustion cars in the TCO sweeps as well.

PROVIDING PEOPLE RECYCLE APPROPRIATELY! Incentives such as serious discounts on replacement battery packs (when the batteries have reached their maximum number of recharge cycles) in exchange for the old ones (remember the "Swap-a-crate" days of glass beer bottles?) - I hesitate to support the "leasing" of battery packs as proposed by some EV companies to ensure the old ones are returned, but if that's what it takes to prevent people from just dumping them in landfills...

The big killers are all the emotionally retarded people who have to have a brand new car every year to prove their penis is large enough - but they're a problem irrespective of the fuel the vehicle uses.

Put in place incentives to ensure the batteries are recycled and the electric motors from decommissioned vehicles are given a quick overhaul (check the brushes and bearings etc) and recycled out into the latest and most stylish vehicle bodies.

An IC engine is very mechanically complex and experiences a lot of wear on thousands of components. Reconditioning is an expensive and energy-consuming process. Rewinding an electric motor is a relatively simple task, so even if something goes seriously wrong and the windings all melt down, it's easily recycled.

The Pulse Width Modulators and other electronics required for an electric vehicle are energy efficient and long-lasting. In their most basic form (ignoring the posh ones that have programmable energy curves etc), they are less complicated to manufacture than the on-board computers boasted by most modern fuel-efficient IC vehicles. "Zero motorcycles" have a programmable PWM controller you can plug into your *own* computer's USB port and use a simple radio-button-and-checkbox interface to change the bike's performance - see how far you get trying to interface your BMW's computer with your PC...

Given less-complicated and longer-lasting motors, less-complicated electronics, fewer sensors and battery costs (manufacture and mining of resources) being defrayed by a proper recycling programme, the TCO of battery electric vehicles should be comparable with or lower than IC vehicles - hard to say yet as no one has gone into the level of production with battery EVs that they have with ICVs.

I've deliberately ignored the bodies of the vehicle as they would be comparable in both production costs and lifespan - especially these days with the widespread use of plastics, carbon fibre and other lightweight materials in modern ICVs to lower the weight and improve fuel economy.

The reason I'm talking almost exclusively about battery-powered EVs is because the fuel cell EVs are nowhere near the level of sophistication of battery EVs currently - the fuel cells are heavy and weak, they still have to carry batteries to act as a buffer and they require a fuel tank. Also hydrogen (either gaseous or chemically stored and released by catalyst) is crap energy at storage, not even matching the humble, antiquated Sealed Lead Acid deep cycle batteries for energy density, let alone coming near Li-ion or the new "nano-titanide" cells (which apparently are capable of withstanding repeated high amperage burst charges - 10 minutes to recharge your car).

Currently, the big cost is the battery pack but that will come down as a by-product of bulk manufacturing and demand.

Over recent years, it has been demonstrated that battery-powered EVs can outperform ICVs on acceleration, torque and power, and they can be built for speed or distance driving. With burst-charge-capable batteries and a proper recharging infrastructure (as widespread as current service stations), the main disadvantage to battery EVs (lower range if you opt for high speed) is mitigated.

It won't happen overnight - but nor did the petrol powered vehicles we take for granted today. Once upon a time, a horse could go faster and further and "refuel" pretty much anywhere while "gas buggies" were limited in range and speed and cost shit-loads of cash.

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"Turbines"?

You mean Gas Turbines?

Well, they have been tried, several times between the '50s and '80s.

I'll never forget the case of the Grand Touring class racer where, on the grid of a race it was necessary for the marshals to move the car forward - because the exhaust was charring the paint on the front of the car in the row behind, at "idle" please note... Now, imagine parking something like that in a tight space!

Black humour aside ('Charring'. Sorry, it's a crap job, but someone has to do it, right?) , Gas Turbine cars have a horrific thirst for fuel compared to conventional cars - even compared to the real gas guzzlers - when asked to constantly change operating RPM.

Another issue is that Gas Turbines have an outstandingly poor throttle response - worse in fact than the worst, which means, these days, the very first, turbocharged conventional engines. Hardly the sort of thing you need when pulling out onto a busy roundabout for example... And I say this as the driver of a modern auto-gearbox turbo car who had to learn the art of anticipation under those circumstances.

Which brings us to another interesting point. Thus far, all Gas Turbine powered cars I can recall have not actually had a gearbox, auto or manual (other than a simple 'reverse' gear which simply reversed output rotation, rather than changed transfer ratio and a simple reduction gear).

This because of the torque response of a Gas Turbine, which resembles that of an electric motor - think milk float - they all used nothing but a torque converter to handle the transition from stationary to moving, then depended on the very high RPM range (from idle (12k rpm anyone?) to 'OMG! Do these things REALLY rev that high?') to handle the rest of the speed range.

And the power/toque sapping torque converter is the achilles heel of the classic automatic gearbox, which is why the trend lately is toward 'automatic' gearboxes which are in fact what amount to manual gearboxes with automated gear selection and electronically controlled clutches...

These are far better suited to the power/torque characteristics of a 'conventional' engine (whatever THAT is these days) and pretty much useless with a gas turbine.

Drivable cars need the ability to produce varied torque/power output in rapid response to changing requirements. Gas Turbines are far more suited to running at a steady speed. Which is why they are used in large scale electricity generation. And why aircraft manufacturers tend to emphasise 'cruise' performance. Gas turbines really aren't good (noise/pollution/fuel efficiency) during takeoff, climb and, especially, 'maxed out' (excluding after-burn/military thrust conditions, under which they burn fuel like one of those well-heads Madman Hussein set fire to...).

However, there does exist one possibility - there are such things as small Gas Turbines. Very small. Right down to model aircraft size.

A possibility which springs to mind is a vehicle with a small Gas Turbine that only drives an electric power generator. Running at a fixed speed (cruise mode - highest efficiency - minimum emissions). The vehicle is then propelled by electric motors - which DON'T require torque converters. Add the usual near obligatory stack of Lithium batteries, regenerative braking and a good control system and you might just have the basis of a rather nifty car...

OK, it's only an idea. A fairly complex one, but I doubt there's any simple solution.

So, someone shoot the idea down. I'd seriously like to see what holes the concept has.

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old fart model

yes indeed - it was a GSX 1100 E (european tourer) of an age that enabled it to have an "A" plate. But I read on and this thread has some fantastic comments and observations. Reminds me of years back in Sunny Aberdeenshire when I saw a diesel engine crammed into a old bike frame. That was expected to chug along at about 180-200mpg (not those piddly little American gallons admittedly... hey I thought EVERYTHING in AMERICA was BIGGER.... your know; roads, pies, asylums etc)

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Boffin

@ Steven Raith & Adam Foxton

Exactly what I thought when I read Avon.. (isn't that Tiger in Peterborough? must be something else...)

now just use a polo blue motion engine and viola. easy.

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Joke

Don't know why the americans are bothering

The US should just step back from this one, its clearly going to end up with the Germans :)

50mpg from an audi A4 diesal at the moment, not far behind from most of the other german diesal saloons.

I'm sure they will just rock up with some uber light carbon fibre BMW / Mercedes with some 1 litre diesal and before we know it they are there and back again!

As soon as the USA realises that it can't just keep sticking huge big V8s in everything then maybe just maybe, they might get gas mileage better than a kid on a push bike.

:)

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@Jon Tocker

The thing is, even on the far, fat, side of the Atlantic, fuel taxes dramatically skew any cost arguments. Which is why stuff like this usually looks at CO2 emissions, not pounds and pence. On that basis, even the worst Chelsea tractor produces less emissions than an EV powered by a two-year-old battery. Since this has to be regarded as additional load on the National Grid, all of that power must come from fossil-fuels: the nuclear and renewable sources are all busy keeping the lights on.

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re AC (25th March 2008 14:39 GMT)

"Which is why stuff like this usually looks at CO2 emissions, not pounds and pence. On that basis, even the worst Chelsea tractor produces less emissions than an EV powered by a two-year-old battery."

All the "well to wheel" life cycle assessments I've seen show even coal- or natural gas-fired power stations combined with an EV produce less "green-house gas" emissions than even very efficient petrol or diesel ICVs, so I do not know how you can make your assertion that the worst Urban Assault Vehicles produce less emissions.

I do agree that fuel taxes and artificial price-hiking shit on the parts of suppliers and distributors skew the maths somewhat but our dear govt here in NZ currently penalises EV drivers to the tune of bloody-near $100 per year in vehicle registration fees and you can bet that the price of electricity would go up if significant numbers of people eschewed paying petrol tax and bought EVs - the thieving Mongrels of Parliament don't like having their revenue diminished (quality child-porn and "P" ("pure" methamphetamine) aren't cheap, I guess).

What we really need an X-Prize for is some system that forces people to car pool, buy a scooter or motorbike, walk or use public transport instead of driving to and from work every day *by themselves* in their car, van or bloody-great SUV. That'd probably deal to a large amount of the problems with emission and dwindling oil reserves right away as well as cut congestion dramatically. Another X Prize for creating a car that cannot be tampered with by bloody boi racers (like drilling holes in the exhaust system to "make it sound mean as").

One great thing about an EV: you won't get people ruining its performance and emission controls by drilling holes in its exhaust system. Boi racers would hate 'em because they don't sound loud enough (so they wouldn't buy them) - then they'll hate them even more when some bloke in a Tesla shoots silently past their buggered-up old Subaru (with the noisy exhaust) and leaves them in the dust.

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