- Aug 24, 2009
One Gallon Challenge: alt-fuel "race" cars get up to 164 MPGe
Dirigo - click for more images of the One Gallon Challenge
This weekend's One Gallon Challenge in Massachusetts resulted in some pretty amazing fuel economy results. The five vehicles that took part in the
- MIT's all-electric Porsche – 164 MPGe (plug-to-wheels) or 75MPGe (well-to-wheels)
- Moonbeam – 93 MPGe
- Dirigo – 88 MPGe
- Ricker Truck – 70 MPGe
- Wood-burning truck – 27.7 MPGe
[Source: Jory Squibb]
Ten!...Nine!....Eight!....the spectators shouted the count-down until Nancy Hazard dropped the checkered flag in front of six unusual cars. Without the screech of tires, the One Gallon Challenge began in stately, fuel-conserving style, as each car set out to drive the 100 miles from Greenfield, Mass. to Boston on one gallon of fuel.
As the cars pulled into the Greenfest festival in downtown Boston later that afternoon, after blisteringly hot weather and many adventures, each had proven some aspect of our complex evolution to ultra-economical transportation.
Dirigo--a sleek diesel 3 wheeler clocked in at 88MPGe with a running cost of 2.9 cents per mile--showed the importance of good aerodynamics. This car had no backup, but was driven 550 miles on its own tires! With a sigh of relief, Bill Buchholz finally pointed the hood ornament toward Maine:
Ricker Truck, also 900cc diesel-powered, clocked in at 70 MPGe and showed the advantages of using laminated foam construction for safety and light weight. This car was finished only hours before the race, yet apart from overheating problems, made Boston in fine form.
The wood-gas powered truck from 21st Century Motor Works breezed in at 27.7 MPGe and an amazing 1.7 cents per mile travel cost, showing the viability of using a local, carbon-sequestering fuel source: ordinary cord wood.
MIT's Electric Vehicle Team drove their Porsche at an amazing 164 MPGe (plug-to-wheels) and 75MPGe (wells-to-wheels) efficiency. Once our electricity grid becomes more earth-friendly, this technology may surpass all others. Many spectators, used to lead-acid technology, were awed as these students drove, with 18 automotive-sized Lithium-ion batteries donated by Valence Technology, from Cambridge to Greenfield on a single charge, then charged up at the Ford dealership, and merrily drove back home. Without a doubt, the miracle battery we all dreamed of decades ago has arrived.
The Roopod, poster-child of the event, was not quite drivable at race time, but was pushed symbolically across the start, and was on display in Boston. This ultra sleek and light, 14 HP diesel-powered wonder will be a car to be reckoned with next year.
Dripping with sweat, Jory Squibb drove his gas-powered three-wheel Moonbeam across the line at 93 MPGe and 2.7 cents per mile cost. Built as a grocery-getter, it had never been driven far from Camden, Maine; but finished the race without incident, blasting its heater to keep the engine cool in the 90 degree heat.
Though they were weary after interacting with the thousands of attendees at the two-day Greenfest, all participants agreed to return next year with exciting improvements and face an even larger field of next-generation vehicles.
[this press release is an updated version with slight wording changes from the original]