Automotive X-Prize FAIL

I am a big fan of the original X-Prize, and the current X-prize foundation. However, in this one case, I never thought that what they were asking for was possible, and well, it wasn't.

Basically, for years, consumer advocates have been going on and on about how it is easy to build a 100mpg car if only car companies tried and were not tied up with big oil. BS.

The two main things holding back mpg's are 1) safety regulations and 2) consumer preference for cars that move faster than granny on a penny-farthing.
http://archivesoutside.records.nsw.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/A1473-No03-Page-21-Booloominbah-and-Nurse-on-Penny-farthing-resize.JPG
Yeah - you try merging onto a highway on this...

The issue is basically this: if you want to build a light, high-mpg car which is drivable, you have to not pass safety regulations. How do you not pass safety regulations? You take away one wheel and call your car a motorcycle (which is what tricycles currently count as).

And you get this, which won the side-by-side automotive X-Prize:

Li-Ion Motors Wave II – Yeah, it's that fugly

I would never want to be seen in one, let alone own one. And the only safety regulations it has passed are the ones which apply to motorcycles. Which, as far as I can tell, means that it has headlights and some form of brakes. Not exactly inspiring.

No real car, not a single one, was able to hit the 100mpg mark, even in controlled tests. These were meant to be cars that could be put into production, with the X-Prize foundation showing the world that all along the big-evil car companies just had not been trying. They were custom built for the competition, they had high hopes, and they failed. Every single one. The closest was this, the Very Light Car - it got 100mpg but would not have a hope in hell of passing safety standards, let alone convincing anyone to pay for one. It was the only "car" to break 100mpg.


What does this teach us? If you want 100mpg, go to VW and buy a Lupo bluemotion and get 70mpg, and then wait a few years for something else. Or buy a Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt. Or *shudder* a 2012 plug-in Prius when that goes on sale. You see, car companies really are not the bad guys, they are the good guys. Building a car which gets 100mpg is damn hard, or right now maybe even impossible (not counting electric cars). Car companies are very very good at engineering cars. While there are some markets where the capital investment simply has not been there -- as was the case with private space ventures before the X-Prize -- the automotive market is not one of them.

Spend your money elsewhere X-Prize foundation, stop wasting it on tinfoil 'cars'.

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