• Aug 24th 2009 at 6:54PM
  • 13
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 race challenge (any line of of cars that starts "in stately, fuel-conserving style" can't really be called a race, can it?) made the 100-mile drive into Boston and posted fuel efficiency results as follows:
  • 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
OGC organizer Jory Squibb said the vehicles helped show solutions for "our complex evolution to ultra-economy" and promised to hold the event again next year. Fun fact of the trip: the MIT Porsche recharged at a 220V outlet at a local Ford dealer.

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[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]


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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      A Tesla Roadster gets about 150mpge.

      That is, it uses about 1.5 gallons worth of gas equivalent (50kWh) from its battery and goes about 220 miles. And it does so at decent speeds, like 40mph or even highway speeds.

      So why the big deal over these cars?
        • 6 Years Ago
        check the price of the Tesla and you'll see the big deal.
      • 6 Years Ago
      my name is douglas puckett i have made a battery that never needs recharged because it does everything it self . this battery has been drove 183000 miles by a film crew so this can be proven by someone other than me. a documentary was done i have built this 2 years ago but i am getting ready now to build 2 different types of electric motors and if you are interested on helping me i will give it to you . this is not that time consuming because i know how to build these. and you keep the credit because i am the guy that has built things you use today but no company can afford to let out which is fine . let me know.by EMAIL
        • 6 Years Ago
        watch the documentary on TV in feb.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Bugger off you stupid scam artist. If your invention were for real, every reporter in the world would be at your door with a frickin' battering ram, instead of you trying desperately to flog your crap on the internet.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So MIT performed best after all, despite this blog earlier expressing disappointment at their "conventional" solution. And hah, not surprisingly, the wood-burning car did terribly. Recall that the Germans only resorted to it in '45 when they can't even do coal gasification anymore.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Nice effort to show it doesn't take $$$$ to do a one-off vehicle to kiss 100 mpg. Surprised I didn't see any Honda Insight (two-seater version 2000-2006 model years) entered. I know my own best mpg for a full tank has been 86 mpg over 750 miles doing 60 mph. Drop speed to 40-45 mph and the indicated economy is over 100 mpg.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What happend to Tri Hybrid Stealth - the only AXP contender?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Sorry to be dull - cld someone explain plug to wheels vs wells to wheels? Thx.

        • 6 Years Ago
        I was confused myself and five minutes of Google helped less than I'd hoped. It appears that well-to-wheels takes into account how the electricity is generated, while plug-to-wheels doesn't. Someone who's in the know care to comment?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, my question was "why aren't the gasoline engines rated the same way?" A lot of energy goes into refining gasoline from oil, nevermind transporting it. Just getting it from the well to your wheels would probably result in a 25% decrease in efficiency. Especially if the oil comes from the middle east.
        • 6 Years Ago
        This brings up another dullard question. Let's say a battery holds 20KWh. How much energy does it take to put 20 KWh into that battery (typical case, not best case)? Batteries get pretty hot while charging. That's energy loss.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yikes - a formula that tries to include the energy used to create one barrel of oil - but deep sea oil is much more expensive than middle eastern oil - but may not be transported as far - and heavy oil is harder to refine than light oil!!! It does raise a host of questions. Thanks nrb - your reply helped jog the wheels!

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