Thursday, September 16, 2010

And the X Prize goes to...a gas powered car!

Edison 2 X-Prize from Johnny St.Ours on Vimeo.

Electric cars have their good points.  And plenty of bad ones.  The conviction of many that they are a panacea for global warming is infuriating.  Only 27% of the US's carbon emissions come from the transportation sector, and cars are just a portion of that.  The embodied energy of batteries is HUGE.  Their efficiency and energy density leaves much to be desired.  Plus I'm just bothered by people who believe in silver bullet solutions to complex problems.

So it put a smile on my face when I read today that the winner of the Progressive Automotive X Prize was an aerodynamic, light weight, low power, gasoline car.  Not electric.  Not Hybrid.  Light weight and low power are the classic formula for fuel efficient vehicles like the Nuovo Fiat 500 and Morris Mini of the 1950s.  But there's a special place in my heart for the Citroen 2CV, the "umbrella on four wheels," which was designed in the 1930s, but released after WWII.  The design brief was for a car that could carry 4 peasants and 220lbs of farm goods at 37mph and get 78mpg.  That's right, 78mpg.  In a way, its sad that we are only shooting for 100mpg, almost 80 years later.  Many, Saul Griffith among them, think that its not nearly enough

Hats off to the Edison 2 team and their 250cc wonder.  Less is indeed more.  As the Edison folks themselves say, "There are only two absolute virtues.  The first is light weight. The second is aerodynamic drag.  Everything else is a desperate compromise."


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