Awarded three design teams a total of $10 million for their fuel-efficient vehicles.

Team Edison 2’s “Very Light Car” can achieve the energy equivalent of 102.5 miles per gallon of gasoline (MPGe).
The X Prize Foundation and Progressive Insurance awarded $10 million on Sept. 16 to three teams that won the Progressive Automotive X Prize.
Edison2, from Charlottesville, Va., claimed half of the prize purse by winning the “mainstream” class with its “Very Light Car,” a four-wheeled, aerodynamic vehicle that runs on E85 (a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) and seats four. The vehicle achieved the energy equivalent of 102.5 miles per gallon of gasoline (MPGe). It also achieved the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels ever tested at Chrysler Proving Grounds, and it lived up to its name with a curb weight of only 830 pounds.

Earning a $2.5 million prize with a win in the “alternative side-by-side” class, the “Wave II” from Li-ion Motors Corp. of Mooresville, N.C., is an all-electric car powered by lithium-ion batteries. It seats two people, side-by-side. The car achieved 187 MPGe and demonstrated a driving range of more than 100 miles. Its distinctive look features an aerodynamic body that encloses all four wheels.

The remaining $2.5 million was awarded to X-Tracer Team Switzerland from Winterthur, Switzerland, which won the “alternative tandem” class with the E-Tracer, essentially an enclosed, all-electric motorcycle that deploys two extra outrigger wheels at low speeds to stabilize the vehicle. The E-Tracer achieved more than 200 MPGe, the greatest fuel economy reached in the competition. Its range exceeds 100 miles.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was heavily involved in the Progressive Automotive X Prize, providing $9 million in grants to support education, outreach and technical operations related to the competition. For the final stage of the competition, the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory performed dynamometer tests under controlled laboratory conditions to verify each vehicle’s performance.

Edison2 pursues efficiency through the absolute virtues of low weight and low aerodynamic drag.  Although we anticipated developing a hybrid or electric vehicle – hence our name, Edison2 – our studies on efficiency led us away from the significant added weight of batteries needed for an electric or hybrid drive to a one-cylinder, 250cc internal combustion engine fueled by E85.

The Very Light Car is light because it is light. Components of the VLC have been evaluated for function and re-designed to be light yet strong. Parts can weigh as little as a tenth the weight of an equivalent part in a current vehicle. As individual components become lighter the suspension, for example, needs less mass, allowing the car to become lighter still.

The Very Light Car is simple. Feature creep – the evolution of items such as power seats or door locks from luxury options to standard features – has resulted in heavier vehicles needing more energy for propulsion. The simplicity of design of the Very Light Car means fewer components, less weight, greater efficiency and lower cost.

The Very Light Car is the most efficient auto platform ever built. Edison2’s innovations apply regardless of power source. The light chassis and aerodynamic body will make hybrid or electric cars much more efficient, helping solve problems of range and performance.

The Very Light Car draws on endurance auto racing for safety. Innovations that allow drivers to walk away from high-speed crashes, such as collapsible space not available in other cars and a shape that deflects rather engages on impact, enhance safety in our low-mass vehicle.

The Very Light Car is environmentally responsible. Using very little energy regardless of power source, the Very Light Car – a low-mass vehicle using mostly recyclable aluminum and steel – requires little energy in production and avoids scarce and hazardous materials.

Our approach to solving the United States’ energy dependence comes from looking at the big picture and not being distracted by the politically fashionable trends.  A very light and aerodynamic car is more efficient than a heavier one with more drag, no matter what type of power source is used.  Depending upon application, different types of power plants and drive trains have various costs and benefits.  The Very Light Car is the platform of the future, eventually allowing for a choice of propulsion that fits the customer’s needs, preferences, and driving habits.

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