Wikipedia has defined itself as the ever changing and always evolving online resource for just about anything. Spot an error and you're given the power to make the change. And if you simply want to add more detail, well that's okay too. And while crowd-sourced content may have its limitations, the continuous flux of Wikipedia has allowed it to top other traditional encyclopedias, as the more current, expansive source. Fortunately, this approach isn't reserved just for online encyclopedias. A company in Seattle, Washington is applying similar principles to cars. Wikispeed is an automotive manufacturer that makes all its cars modular. Components can be swapped out in modular groups in order to upgrade performance, refine the vehicle or change the drivetrains. In fact, every seven days an updated version of their SGT01 prototype is announced.


Wikispeed came onto the scene back in 2010 at the Progressive Automotive X Prize competition, which offered a cash prize to the most efficient vehicle. Wikispeed's SGT01 was entered as a fully gasoline-powered car, while many other competitors brought hybrid or electric-drive vehicles.

Their ethos was simple: build a lightweight car with a volunteer-based team under a continuously evolving work method. In fact, during the X Prize competition, the judges sent Wikispeed back to drawing board after they found critical issues at tech inspection. But with Wikispeed's modular design, they were able to strengthen the engine cradle, change the suspension design, and add DOT-approved seats in virtually no time at all. The team stripped the car down, made the changes, and had it back up and running in less than 4 hours.

The SGT01 displayed a lot of promise in the competition, as it showcased how dramatic efficiency gains can still be had using a gas-powered internal combustion engine. The SGT01 weighs only 1,300 pounds and can theoretically hit 104/114 (highway/city) miles per gallon. Despite carrying only a 4-gallon gas tank, the SGT01 boasts an estimated 400 mile range between fill ups.


Thankfully, the SGT01's extreme efficiency doesn't come at the cost of performance. The prototype can rocket from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 5 seconds, with a calculated top speed of 149 mph. And should there be any issue with the engine, you can take the car to a Honda dealership for repair, as the engine they are using is a 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder Honda R18a.

With a structural carbon-fiber swappable aeroshell body, Wikispeed claims the SGT01 is safe as well.

If you can't afford the $25,000 price tag of the SGT01, you can still donate money to the cause--just like Wikipedia. Wikispeed's goal is to use the cash they've raised from the SGT01 prototype to fund research of their next vehicle: the more mainstream Comfortable Commuter Car, or C3. Their plans are to make it very affordable, but without the compromises that usually come with low-cost transportation.

Share This Photo X