3 ultra-efficient cars win $10M innovation award (w/ Video)

Sep 16, 2010 By DEE-ANN DURBIN , AP Auto Writer
This Aug. 2, 2010 photo provided by Progressive Insurance, Edison2's “Very Light Car #98” is shown during track testing at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. The ultralight, gas-powered car that can get 102 miles per gallon is among the winners of the $10 million Automotive X Prize, a contest to develop highly efficient, production-ready vehicles. (AP Photo/Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE) NO SALES

(AP) -- An ultralight, gas-powered car that can get 102 miles per gallon is among the winners of the $10 million Automotive X Prize, a contest to develop highly efficient, production-ready vehicles.

While it's not likely to go on sale in its current form, Edison2's "Very Light Car No. 98" was cited for its innovative use of lightweight materials, its superior aerodynamics and its very low production cost. Oliver Kuttner, the founder of Lynchburg, Va.-based Edison2, said his target price is $20,000.

The "Very Light Car No. 98" seats four and is built on a steel frame of mostly aluminum parts. That keeps the weight at 830 pounds, around a quarter of the weight of an average car. It has a space-age, race car look and a tear drop shape, with the wheels set far out from the car to help deflect crashes.

Kuttner, a real-estate developer and race-car driver, said a team of around 100 people - including many racing veterans - developed the car. They opted for a one-cylinder, ethanol-capable engine instead of an electric car because batteries add weight and gas is readily available. But the team said its innovations in and the use of lightweight materials could apply to any kind of vehicle.

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"We've been working on these types of solutions, really, all our lives," Kuttner said. "In racing, fuel is a precious resource. One less pit stop is the difference between winning and losing."

Edison2 won $5 million, the bulk of the prize money. Kuttner said Edison2 spent more than that to develop the car, but we wouldn't give an exact figure.

Some of the prize money will go into development of the next generation light car, Kuttner said. He said the team is now focused on making the car more consumer-friendly and "easier on the eyes" but without adding to its weight or hurting its . Once Edison2 is convinced the car is ready, Kuttner plans to find partners to manufacture and distribute it.

Two other car makers will split $2.5 million each: Mooresville, N.C.-based Li-Ion Motors Corp., which made the Wave2, a two-seat electric that gets 187 miles on a charge, and X-Tracer Team of Winterthur, Switzerland, whose motorcycle-like electric mini-car, the E-Tracer 7009, gets 205 miles on a charge. Both of those companies are taking orders for their cars. X-Tracer Team says the electric E-Tracer will be available to U.S. consumers next year.

The , which is funded by Progressive Insurance, gave 111 teams 30 months to develop their vehicles and then put them through driving, safety and efficiency tests.

All of the winners are now eligible for a U.S. Department of Energy program that will help ready the vehicles for introduction to the U.S. market.

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User comments : 7

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3 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2010
An "ultralight, gas-powered car", does this mean you can drive it without a license?
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 16, 2010
Is 102mpg really groundbreaking??? The toyota prius if driven correctly can get up to 70 or 80mpg. The toyota prius that have been outfitted with bigger batteries are getting 100mpg today.
Sounds like a scam to me because these guys http://www.calcars.org/ have achieved this goal way before this contest began.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
look at the size of that car -- how many gallons do you relaly think it holds?? and the fact it weights a quarter of a normal car -- now if it hits safety standards as well you might have a winner -- but hte price of aluminum will surely rise.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
Is 102mpg really groundbreaking??? The toyota prius if driven correctly can get up to 70 or 80mpg.

The Edison2 isn't a hybrid though. At least from what I gathered, it's only using a ICE running on E85. I thought it was a big deal because their increased fuel efficiency comes strictly from the aerodynamics and weight reduction.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
This car is nothing new or innovative.
5 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2010
"The "Very Light Car No. 98" seats four"

Four very diminutive and very close friends. Somehow, a four seat go-cart doesn't seem to be worth five million.
not rated yet Sep 19, 2010
The 2010 VW Polo is rated at 3.3L/100 km combined EU (aka 71 mpg). Car and Driver says it exceeds that figure, as diesels generally do.

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