Whether there's a consumer market for the alé, a 2-seat 3-wheeler built by
Fuel Vapor Technologies
, or not, the vehicle is an early contender for the Automotive X-prize. The
is a global competition designed to inspire automotive innovation, and a multi-million-dollar prize is up for grabs. While it weighs a scant 1,400 pounds and is aerodynamically fluid, the alé would still achieve only about 70 mpg in
tests with the stock
1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Right now, designers say it can get 92 mpg. The difference is the patent-pending fuel system that serves up a vapor in front of the stock throttle body. During light-duty cruising, the engine's regular fuel injectors are shut off and engine runs only on the vapors. The alé we found at the
did not have the vapor system on the engine. It would normally go on the turbo pipe leading to the throttle body. Officials said they are still working out the patent details and didn't want to show off the product too early. According to lead engineer Brad Zimmerman, the vehicle can go from 0-60 in five seconds. He adds that the biggest problem facing the vehicle before public release is fixing the "drivability" problems as the computer switches between the standard and vapor fuel systems. Right now the alé could be certified as a car in Europe but would be a
in the U.S. Currently there are no plans to market a stand-alone vapor system that could be retrofit on other vehicles because the electronics are so complicated.
More photos after the break.