Remember the Moonbeam (pictured)? The tiny three-wheeled bubble car can go more than 100 miles on a single gallon of gas, which is exactly what inventor Jory Squibb wanted to create when he set out to maximize efficiency from a microcar. But Suibb also recognizes that designers of other vehicles and vehicle types want to show off what their rides can do, and so he set up the One Gallon Challenge. Think of it as a local version of the Automotive X Prize, which Squibb was also involved in (for a short while).
The One Gallon Challenge kicks off this week (see dates and times after the jump) in Greenfield, Massachussetts. The race involves seven cars – including the Dirigo and a Porsche converted to electric drive by MIT students – driving the 100 miles to Boston in time for GreenFest using the least amount of fuel. Squibb says that this Challenge will prove more than how little energy can be used to go 100 miles:
It's not the lack of technology which stands in the way of next-generation travel. If amateurs can build these cars in backyards, it shows that we simply lack corporations willing to mass produce them, and buyers willing to move beyond the big, boring, and heavy boxes we now have.
[Source: One Gallon Challenge]
HIGH-MPG CAR RACE STARTS IN GREENFIELD
Aug 19-20 at Fiske Ave.
THE ONE GALLON CHALLENGE
CAMDEN, ME - Are you looking for a car for your local errands that gets 100 MPG and costs only $5.00 to fill it up? You can find seven such unusual vehicles competing in the One Gallon Challenge on display in Greenfield on Wednesday, August 19 and Thursday, Aug 20 at Fiske Avenue , in front of Mesa Verde and the Solar Store, as they prepare for an exciting 100-mile race to the Boston GreenFest. The event is co-sponsored by the Greening Greenfield Energy Committee. (GGEC)
The goal of the race is to see which of the seven cars can drive to Boston using the least amount of fuel. "It's not the lack of technology which stands in the way of next-generation travel," said Jory Squibb, organizer of the event. "If amateurs can build these cars in backyards, it shows that we simply lack corporations willing to mass produce them, and buyers willing to move beyond the big, boring, and heavy boxes we now have."
The rally's trial horse is "Moonbeam," a common sight in the Camden , Maine area. It has traveled over 10,000 miles and routinely gets 85-105 MPG. It is powered by a 150 cc gas engine and carries two passengers "if they are on good terms".
Equally efficient is "Dirigo", a diesel-powered three- wheeler built in Lincolnville , Maine by a 5-person team. A few months ago, on their way to the Green Grand Prix in New York , their tow car broke down. Bill Buchholz and Evan Schmit rolled the untested "Dirigo" off the trailer and drove 200 miles through the night in driving rain to arrive at the Prix just in time for the start. They then proceeded to win their class with an impressive 90 MPG.
Another interesting entry is a lithium-battery-powered electric Porche built by MIT students. Having an electric car in the competition raises an interesting question: How do you compare a car which can go 130 miles using the electrical energy equivalent to one gallon of gasoline, without considering the rather poor 30-40 % efficiency of producing that electricity with coal, oil, or natural gas at the power plant ?
Other vehicles include a truck which runs on bio-mass, and a space-age aluminum three-wheeler called the "Roopod" built by an industrial artist, a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design.
"It is really exciting to have this race begin in Greenfield," said Nancy Hazard , co-chair of GGEC and former director of the Tour de Sol, America's Green Car Competition and Festival, which was birthed in Greenfield in 1989 by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. "We own more than 50% of GM and Chrysler right now, and if we demand fuel efficient vehicles, we could get them!"
"This event really demonstrates how we can use less energy to get around and more than meet the Greenfield 10% Challenge," said Becca King Co-chair of the GGEC's 10% Challenge. "You can pick up your 10% Challenge sign at the event, and learn about other simple things you can do."
The One Gallon Challenge aims to challenge people to build very fuel-efficient cars that get 100 mpg or better, demonstrate that fuel-efficient vehicles are possible, and to educate the public about the true energy use and environmental impact of our cars. Instead of the usual "fuel pump to wheels' mpg, the event will measure and display the actual energy used from "well to wheels" and convert energy such as electricity to equivalent mpg (MPGe), so that the true fuel used becomes clear.
The vehicles will be on display in Greenfield just off of Main Street in the Fiske Avenue parking lot at the top of Miles Street on Wednesday, August 19 from 4-6pm, and again on Thursday from 9-11am. The starting ceremony will be held at 10:50am, and the vehicles will start off on their 100 mile dirve to Boston . On Friday and Saturday, the vehicles will be on display at the Boston GreenFest 2009, an entertaining education festival celebrating the many ways we can create a better world by greening our communities and reduce our impact on our planet.
The Greening Greenfield Energy Committee (GGEC) is a citizen committee that works closely with the Town of Greenfield to build a more sustainable future, so that current and future generations can enjoy live in this beautiful abundant valley. www.GreeningGreenfield.org
For more information on the One Gallon Challenge see moonbeamplans.com and click on "summer 2009, One Gallon Challenge," and BostonGreenFest.org for more details.