Consumer prototype first drive!

 CBS Detroit 

Edison2 Unveils New Super-MPG Car At The Henry Ford

DEARBORN — Finally, a 21st Century car that really looks like it came from the 21st Century.

The venue was appropriate. The Henry Ford is a shrine to American innovation, and the Edison2 is packed with innovation from stem to stern.

« Knockout Results | Main | X Prize Knockout Stage 6/21/10 »

And Then There Were Two

A little over a year ago 111 teams from 15 countries, with a total of 136 vehicles, entered the Automotive X Prize. Close to two-thirds of the entries were in the mainstream class: 4-wheel, 4-person cars with a range of 200 miles on a single tank or charge.

Entering the 2nd week of the knockout, only three mainstream cars remain: two Edison2 Very Light Cars and the electric Illuminati Seven car. More entries remain in the alternative classes (including our tandem Very Light Car), where entrants need to carry only 2 passengers, go 100 miles, and can have any number of wheels.

What does this mean?

Certainly it means that the X Prize has set the bar appropriately high. Doubling the mileage of existing high-economy cars is a very difficult task; if it were easy it would already have been done.

Second, the fact that only one car reliant on batteries remains in the mainstream class reinforces just how difficult range can be for electric drives. Our analysis of efficiency showed that the energy gained from regenerative braking simply was not worth the cost in added battery weight. One 6 lb gallon of gasoline contains the energy of 500 lbs of batteries; at least 1000 lbs of batteries would be needed if our 750 lb VLC were electric. That is a lot of weight to push around for 200 miles.

Third, it is no coincidence that both Illuminati and Edison2 have build ground-up cars. Achieving breakthrough efficiency by modifying an existing car is not going to happen; rather, it requires a new way of thinking about cars.

Edison2 has done this. We have met the 100 MPGe efficiency mark this week, and have done it by taking a fresh look at what it takes to make a car practical, safe, affordable, and efficient. The VLC is light because every part has been redesigned to be strong and light. It is safe because of design innovations from racing. It is affordable because it is low-mass, simple and uses conventional materials. And it is efficient because it is an unprecedented combination of low weight and superior aerodynamics.

Knockout continues this week with dynamic safety and emissions testing. Then the competition concludes the last 2 weeks of July, where cars need to meet the full requirements, rather than the 2/3 needed at Knockout. Stay tuned.

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Reader Comments (19)

Are you able to give any information explaining why the side-by-side VLC was eliminated but not the tandem? Were there different approaches to the engines, or is the tandem just more aerodynamic? Also, the numbers posted for mainstream car 98 on the PIAXP website seem to show it barely making 80 mpge on the highway test and barely 65 mpge on the city test... do you feel good about getting to 100mpge for the finals?

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdoc3osh

Also, can you give us any info on how this would compare to a production vehicle? I think I remember reading that the PIAXP cars have to have air conditioning (and certainly heating), is that correct? How much weight do you think would be added once airbags, radios/ speakers, are added... presumably you'd go with manual rather than motorized windows... The Xprize purports to test for a 100mpge production-type car; do you think the rules support that goal? Do you think they should have required airbags or anything else that is standard in a production vehicle? (I noticed a fire extinguisher is mandatory... that probably adds a few pounds...)
We haven't seen rear interior photos of your cars. Do the seats face forward? Illuminati's would probably make a few rear-passengers carsick having to look out the back window...

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdoc3osh

Good questions.

The side-by-side had a defective throttle body which stuck causing a lean condition resulting in it running hot. We successfully fought the overheating condition but did not meet the miles driven requirement in the time given. While the X Prize website displayed inaccurate numbers because their loggers do not have math capability, in reality our cars were required to run their tests reaching 67 MPGe. We ran the tests and reached combined results of 101 and 98 MPGe for two cars. The third car got 80 MPGe because a pressure sensor was defective for the boost control. These measures are determined by weighing the fuel and are very accurate.

Our cars have a large interior. Much larger than meets the eye because the loads are so small the mechanical components are also very small leaving a lot of space. While our cars do not have all the details like airbags and installed impact absorbing foam and other minor things, the X Prize is requiring us to carry a 99 lbs penalty ballast to compensate for this. In effect the cars weigh as much as they will when done and sold. So yes our cars can get 100 MPGe while sold for the street and while meeting emissions.

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Brown

Thanks for the reply, and good luck. Looking forward to seeing these cars at the dealership!

June 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdoc3osh

Me too! I hope to one day see a production model from you guys.

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbiologist 111

Reading through the Knock-Out Results spreadsheet is interesting, and the "real" MPG data (vs. the XP website's quite inaccurate telemetry charts) really gives a sobering view of how difficult the challenge is. If you normalize results by dividing all electric car's final MPGe values by 1.72 (to compensatve for the 72% more fuel they are allowed to burn in the power plant vs. in the car with the distorted X-Prize rules), it becomes clear that only 2 electric vehicles acheived a true 100 Miles per Gallon of REAL fuel burned. That would be the the eTracers (188.8/1.72 = 110 MPG) and the Li-Ion (182.3/1.72 = 106 MPG). I'm not sure how to fairly analyse the eVaro without more data, due to their combination of electric and fuel propulsion, but it is probably the next best.

For reference, the Aptera comes in at 140.1/1.72 = 82 MPG, and illuminati at 119.8/1.72 = 70 MPG. The best Edison2 car got a REAL 101.4 MPG, with a car that will be much lighter, lower cost to produce (the entire car will probably cost less to manufacture than the battery cost of the EV's), can be refueled in minutes, and with a 5 gallon gas tank will have a 500 mile range (well...OK if it burns E85 it needs to be a 7.5 gallon tank). Tremendous achievement Edison2 !

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