• Dec 4th 2007 at 10:59AM
  • 11

The video above is a minute with VW's Ecoracer, which is made from carbon fibre and gets 83 mpg. VW has yet to make it, but a car very much like it for sale is the Smart Roadster. Below the fold is a video of Fiat's Ecobasic which has a modular, plastic design and can get 94 mpg. Fiat decided not to the make it but you can feel parts of it are in the Fiat 500.

Why didn't these two companies build these cars? The Roadster sports car, while admired by some hypermilers, is a car for a market that doesn't place fuel economy at the top of the concerns list. The high cost of carbon fibre also plays a role in Fiat's decision, but plastics that could function similarly are slowly starting to make it into car parts. Keep your fingers crossed.

[Source: YouTube]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      The VW Ecoracer is like a biodiesel counterpart to the Tesla Roadster. Before Tesla's public unveiling happened and changed my ideas about electric cars, I thought the Ecoracer was the sports car of the future. (I was also very interested in seeing Lotus make a diesel-powered Elise, which they've still shown no interest in doing.)

      Of course the biggest disadvantage of the Ecoracer is the obvious one: VW decided not to produce it. And if you look at their reasons cited in this posting -- high cost of carbon fiber, target market not interested in efficiency -- those reasons would apply equally to the Tesla Roadster. But Tesla went ahead and built their green sports car, while VW didn't.

      Fortune favors the bold.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Well - to be fair, Tesla hasn't quite made it to production yet, either. But we're all hoping.

      And the Tesla wouldn't likely exist in its current form were it not for the Elise. That's one huge advantage Tesla has: They don't have to do all of the chassis engineering and fabrication themselves. Not that Lotus is a high-volume manufacturer, but access to their design is a key strength for the Tesla.

      VW is a high-volume manufacturer - but I don't believe the EcoRacer shares its design with much of anything. Developing a new drivetrain based on new technology is challenging enough; it seems the added cost of a completely new chassis was enough to keep VW out of the market.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Harvest, Thanks for the information but at least it was for sale. I was really hard pressed to think of a roadster that considered fuel economy and it was the best I could come up with.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Two things to note, 1, they are concepts so MPGs are always up in the air and, 2, this was before the big change by the EPA on MPG ratings which would put them down a lot.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great car. Hope they sell the in the US (probbly not). They have a super MPG car that gets over 200MPG (see my blog details below).
      But Volkwagen is terrible at marketing their stuff. However, look at the Smart Car. It looks goofy (maybe cute to some) and it's selling like hotcakes. The US model has poor MPG by my standards.

      I bought a new 1999 New Beetle TDI and I have 150,000 miles on it after nine year. It gets 46 MPG with average driving and 57 MPG average using hypermiling techniques. This kicks butt over the Prius that only gets 45 on the highway.

      VW has annouced it will sell this thing in the US beginnig in 2010 (but I'm not going to hold my breath just yet).The prototype got 285MPG after extensive testing. The production car may get over 200 MPG.

      Pictures of the 2010 production model are on my October 11th blog entr at: johnceberhardt.wordpress.com.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Just wanna highlight what u mentioned. That 3L/100 km is 78.40486 miles per U.S. gallon, 94 = imperial gallons. Same thing happen with the ol' Polo TDI with a 3 cylinder diesel, everyone even PopSci said 93mpg, when it actually was 77 mpg.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah, the ecoracer is a sweet dream. Target market not interested in efficiency? WTH? A lot of people might not be interested in efficiency if it means a slug lug like the smart fortwo, but ask them if the would like a roadster than does 0-60 in under 7 secs and gets 70MPG. Where do I sign up?

      • 7 Years Ago
      VW have already decided to resuscitate the separate 1L (235MPG) car project, mostly to get some experience with new low-cost carbon fiber manufacturing technology.

      I wouldn't be at all surprised if VW also decided to produce a fun little eco-roadster on the basis of the rear-engined New Small Family architecture (cp. Up! concepts). A NSF roadster could feature a shortened wheelbase plus selected carbon fiber body parts to improve the power-to-weight ratio. To further improve performance, the normally severely canted 1000cc three-cylinder engine could be mounted vertically and mated to an optional DSG gear box.

      With extra cooling opportunities, a turbo gasoline mill might be an option - perhaps even the 200hp dual-charged 1.4L TSI. (Bio)diesel would also be feasible, at least in Europe where some diesel-powered convertibles are already on the market.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Smart Roadster hasn't been for sale for a while, unless you're buying a used one, in Europe.

      • 7 Years Ago
      The ecoracer is made of expensive carbon fibre, weighs 850kg (1870 lbs) and gets ~83 mpg.
      A Miata is made of cheap steel, weighs ~2500 lbs. and gets 27 mpg.

      I don't think the 25% drop in weight compared to a Miata produces enough fuel savings to justify the cost to consumers, especially at the loss of safety, performance, and features. Mazda could produce a diesel powered Miata with parts already in the Ford/Mazda/Volvo parts bin and get ~60 mpg.

      Therefore - if VW produced the Ecoracer and people started buying it, they would quickly get undercut on price and they'd lose their shirts. Cant blame em for being cautious.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Another great car that won't make it to production. Why even bother making these "concept" cars if there's no intention of mass producing them. When are we going to see real solutions to our oil addiction?
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