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Transportation The Almighty Buck

VW Concept Microcar Gets 235 MPG 507

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the expensive-ways-to-save-at-the-pump dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Volkswagen is bringing new meaning to the term 'fuel efficiency' with a bullet-shaped microcar that gets 235 mpg. Called the One-Liter, because that's how much fuel it needs to go 100 kilometers, the body's made of carbon fiber to minimize weight and the One-Liter makes extensive use of magnesium, titanium and aluminum so the entire vehicle weighs in at 660 pounds. Aerodynamics plays a big role in its fuel economy, so the car is long and low, coming in at 11.4 feet long, 4.1 feet wide and 3.3 feet tall with a coefficient of drag of 0.16, a little more than half that of an average car. The One-Liter could have a sticker price of anywhere from $31,750 to $47,622, and VW plans to build a limited number in 2010."
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VW Concept Microcar Gets 235 MPG

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  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:26AM (#24066333) Journal
    So small, light and snug (from the picture), that when you get knicked by a Toyota on the autobahn, it can substitute as your coffin too! Now THAT's eco-friendly.
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:45AM (#24066503)

      Surprisingly the name in germany is "totencrappen" which is the german word for "suppository coffin", but the english translation was too long, so they went with one-liter.

    • Re:built-in coffin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Divebus (860563) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:52AM (#24066569)

      This is reminiscent of the car built by Messerschmidt after WWII [youtube.com]. It was really an enclosed motorcycle with exactly the same form factor.

      • Re:built-in coffin (Score:5, Informative)

        by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:13AM (#24066793)

        Good catch! the Messerschmidt got 125 miles per gallon and carried 2 people (top speed was 50, but that was cookin' back then, and still is plenty in the city).

        • Re:built-in coffin (Score:5, Informative)

          by Rei (128717) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @12:28PM (#24067459) Homepage

          Of course, statistics can be misleading. In this case, the vehicle actually got 285mpg in a test run. However, thus run was at 45mph rather than a more typical 55mph; there's 1 1/2 times the aerodynamic drag at 55mph. Rolling losses will be higher by 1.2x. Let's say an overall 1.4x higher, since aerodynamic drag dominates at higher speeds; converting, we get 203mpg. Next, this wasn't a normal drive cycle, but a person trying to optimize their ride. Let's be generous and only cut it to 180mpg. It's a diesel, and diesel is about 15% more dense than gasoline, and emits about 15% more CO2; cut it to 155mpg for a gasoline-equivalent. The production version is going from a 1 cylinder to a 2 cylinder mild hybrid, since the 1 cylinder has poor acceleration. This won't hit it as much as normal, since the car operates on an acceleration/coasting system of maintaining sped, but it should at least hit it a little; let's say 145mpg. The production version is also going to be getting heavier, since this version omitted all of the standard things like airbags and so on. Let's say 130mpg to be generous. And if they widen it to make it more stable (it's quite narrow), it'll get more aerodynamic drag and go lower still. Same if they try and reinforce that frame and skin -- carbon fiber is great, but they're not using much of it, and magnesium (which makes up the bulk of the frame) is even weaker than aluminum. And if they try to make it more affordable by, say, swapping the carbon fiber and magnesium for aluminum and kevlar or fiberglass or whatnot (it's current projected *subsidized* price is, if I recall correctly, something like $40-60k USD), that'll drop further still. Also, since it only has a rather limited regen capability, its city mileage will be lower than its highway mileage.

          Now, even with all of this, it's still one darned efficient vehicle. It's just not as impressive as the original claims. It's easy to manipulate numbers to try and make a vehicle look more efficient than it is. For example, with the Aptera. You generally see two numbers for it: 230mpg and 300mpg. Both are bogus. 230mpg was what the Mk0 got at 55mph. However, it too was a shell, and was not as safe or full of the things needed to meet legal requirements as the Mk1. It was also a diesel. Converting to the Mk1 pre-production model, its charge sustaining mileage went all the way down to 130mpg. However, they generally cite 300mpg, under the excuse that most people don't go on long trips very often, so it'll usually run just on electricity, which they don't count. It's still misleading; many people I've talked to thought you could go cross-country on 300mpg. Nope, not without charging every hundred miles or so. Mind you, Aptera is hardly alone in doing this; virtually all of the PHEV makers do it, and some are a lot worse offenders than others. I remember seeing an article about an SUV that got "150mpg". If you look at how they did their numbers, they were assuming that only something like 1/7th of its miles ran on gasoline, and only counting the gasoline.

          In short: before you believe inflated mileage claims, look into the numbers.

          On the subject of Aptera vs. 1L car: it's interesting the approaches taken by Aptera and the 1L car. The 1L car doesn't take streamlining as far. They move the rear wheels close together, but not so far as to make it a three wheeler. They lift the rear a little off the ground to eliminate ground turbulence, but not nearly as much as the Aptera -- nor do they use cabin air to fill in their wake. Overall, their drag coeff is 0.19, compared to 0.11 for the Aptera. However, while Aptera decided to make one significant compromise on efficiency -- requiring side-by-side seating to make it more acceptable to the general public -- Volkswagen did not. Their tandem seating arrangement reduces frontal area. While there are some downsides to tandem seating, it would be interesting to see a vehicle that takes a combined approach, with the extreme streamlining of an Aptera, along with its hig

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pollardito (781263)
            you subtracted a lot of factors, but they mentioned one new aspect that could offset the 1-cylinder to 2-cylinder switch (though it does say "may"):

            Doubling the number of cylinders is sure to cut fuel economy, so VW may install a diesel-hybrid drivetrain.

            The efficiency letdown may not be the worst of it though, I'm not sure how many people would appreciate this aspect mentioned in the original Canadian Driver article [canadiandriver.com]:

            The passenger puts his/her feet on footrests located on the sides of the driver's seat.

            i

    • by Ossifer (703813)
      Yeah, and consider it has a certain stability problem at higher speeds -- it is the "WOB-L1"...
    • Re:built-in coffin (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @12:33PM (#24067499) Homepage
      Ooh, cute, I want one.

      I'm not sure what the big deal about safety is. Indy car drivers walk away from 200 mph crashes, and their cars are 1500 pounds, about half the weight of a standard American car. Safety doesn't come from weight alone, it comes from engineering for safety. The car will be safe, or unsafe, depending on how it's engineered.

      In any case, looks much less dangerous than a motorcycle, and tens of millions of people drive those. Looks like it will easy to park in the city, too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181)

        A lightweight car can be just as safe as a heavy one under certain circumstances. Unfortunately, hitting a larger vehicle is not one of them. Here in the U.S., with all the behemoth SUVs driven by morons yacking away on their cell phones when they should be paying attention to their driving, chances are good that if you hit something in an L1, it would be a larger vehicle.

  • Big Deal! (Score:2, Informative)

    In 2006, this vehicle [gizmodo.com] got 3,145 miles per gallon, and some high-school students last year won a mileage contest by creating a similar vehicle that got mileage in the 1000-mpg range.

    If VW want to impress, they will have to do a hell of a lot better than that.
    • Re:Big Deal! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KokorHekkus (986906) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:39AM (#24066453)
      You do realise that while there a some things that both cars have in common there's quite a lot more that differs between a ultrahigh mileage experimental vehicle and a road-registerable car usable in everyday traffic. Things that come to mind is having: a performance in both speed and acceleration that doesn't make it a slightly mobile roadblock, safety regarding both collision and usability, and comfortable enough to actually be usable.
      • Due to mileage demands, the quality of vehicles that are "road legal" has been decreasing every year. Where I live, it is now legal to drive those stupid "mini-motorcycles" on residential streets, even though they don't have turn signals or even brake lights, and (because of the position of the rider) are inherently less safe than a kid's unpowered scooter.

        Those "experimental" vehicles did not look so UN-roadworthy, in comparison.
        • Re:What year? (Score:4, Informative)

          by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefrNO@SPAMbhtooefr.org> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:49AM (#24067133) Homepage Journal

          If it has less than four wheels, though, it's not considered a car, and the safety standards become much, much lower.

          Four wheels, the safety standards have been going up. That's part of the reason many manufacturers are making 3-wheelers - nobody would pay $100,000 for a stripped out single-seater car, just so they could get something that could get extreme fuel economy. 3-wheelers only make sense for legislative reasons, not practical.

          • Four wheels, the safety standards have been going up. That's part of the reason many manufacturers are making 3-wheelers....3-wheelers only make sense for legislative reasons, not practical.

            Which make this a case where our legislation is working against us. How much more stable would these vehicles be in the corners if they had four wheels? Maybe a new classification of road vehicle needs to be made. 1/2 lane car, under 1000 lbs should have safety standards half way between motorcycle and car. This VW wo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SirLurksAlot (1169039)

      Wow man, you're hard to impress. Considering that most cars on the road only get about 20 - 30mpg I would say 235mpg is still pretty good. The article also points out that that they could produce 1,000/year of these to start with if they wanted to, whereas the vehicle you linked to seems to be no more than than a one-shot trophy winner. Don't get me wrong, they're both very cool concept cars, but I don't think one should be sneered at just because it doesn't meet your particular standard.

      Also, is it just

    • by Typingsux (65623) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:42AM (#24066489)

      In 2006, this vehicle [gizmodo.com] got 3,145 miles per gallon, and some high-school students last year won a mileage contest by creating a similar vehicle that got mileage in the 1000-mpg range.

      If VW want to impress, they will have to do a hell of a lot better than that.

      The problem with your post is that all of those kids are probably mysteriously dead.

    • Re:Big Deal! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:58AM (#24066663)

      A better picture [physorg.com] might help put things into... perspective.
      There's no way in hell something like that will ever be able to enter regular traffic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Solandri (704621)

      The problem with mpg is that it's inverted in terms of gas saved. Pretty obvious if you think of it as a fraction: miles / gallon with the gallons on the bottom, meaning any comparison wrt gallons consumed is inverted. That is, as the amount of gas consumed gets smaller, the any changes in gas consumed are exaggerated and appear bigger.

      e.g. say I have a 100 mile daily commute. If my SUV got 12.5 mpg and I switched to a sedan which gets 25 mpg, I went from burning 8 gallons per 100 miles to 4 gallons - a sav

  • 660 pounds (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:41AM (#24066469)

    Some Americans weigh that much!

  • In other words (Score:5, Informative)

    by shvytejimas (1083291) <slashdot.shvytejimas@dfgh.net> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:43AM (#24066495)
    It weighs 300 kilograms, and the dimensions are 3.47x1.25x1 meters. With that, it would qualify for a microcar [wikipedia.org] class. In some places you wouldn't even need a licence to drive it..
  • Does anyone have another link? This one is blocked at work because blog is in the url, and I don't have any access to the internet other than work here in Iraq. And I'd really like to see the article! :(
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @10:57AM (#24066649)

    I look at a vehicle this small and wonder what would happen if it was hit by a 3000lb vehicle. Even if it has a crumple zones, I could see it being sent flying across the road like a hockeypuck, or it's lack of mass being unable to stop the forward progress of the impacting vehicle after the impact.

    What arguments does one use to convince laymen that these tiny vehicles are safe? My gf wants to get a volvo SUV, but when I even mention a Corolla/Tercel/Yarvis, she likes that they are fuel efficient, but is concerned about being hit by any full size vehicle (not just a Hummer/SUV).

    I recently rode in a coworkers SmartCar, and while it seemed like a great car, I realized that if were were rear ended, we'd be killed. There's about a foot between your back and the back of the car. Less than that of a Jeep Wrangler. My biggest fear would be having to stop quickly on the highway and the guy behind me doesn't stop in time.

    Anybody have any good arguments for justifying these ultra-light cars (VW, SmartCar) to those that do equate a certain size=safety measure?

    • by llaman (1285898) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:14AM (#24066799)
      Because, often, being able to avoid an accident is just as important as being able to survive one. This article [gladwell.com] from the New Yorker is a pretty enlightening read.
      • Because, often, being able to avoid an accident is just as important as being able to survive one. This article from the New Yorker is a pretty enlightening read.

        So when someone runs a red light and broadsides you, the car will automatically detect this incoming vehicle and accelerate out of the way? Or when you are stopped in traffic, it will someone avoid being rear ended by the guy using his cellphone?

        Avoidance is great when you have the space/time to avoid the object (tree, other car).... Just like having a motorcycle.

        • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:49AM (#24067131)

          These absolutist arguments are pointless.

          Yes, there are times when you can avoid, and times when you cannot. This does not make it useless to favor avoidance over resilience.

          You need to carry out a more complete analysis. Being able to avoid accidents in some situations will result in fewer accidents, and will result in some of those accidents being less bad. Being less crash-worthy (but please note that many SUVs, despite their size, are extremely unworthy in a crash!) will result in some of the remaining accidents being worse. To decide what's better, you need to see if the latter overcomes the former.

          Most people feel helpless on the road and therefore feel safest with massive amounts of passive protection at all times, but I don't think this is actually the best way to go. Not the least because carrying all that extra passive protection around with you costs a huge amount of money, especially at $4/gallon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well, for one thing, it's no less safe than riding a motorcycle and more fuel efficient to boot. I ride a yellow sport bike with a yellow reflective jacket and yellow reflective helmet and I've never even had a close call. If I were going to buy this car, I certainly wouldn't get it in silver - the color of the road. That's extremely hard to see in low light, fog, rain, etc. Get it in orange, yellow, bright green, etc and being seen on the road should be much less of a problem. As long as there's few o
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mrogers (85392)

        Get it in orange, yellow, bright green, etc and being seen on the road should be much less of a problem.

        That's great until someone mistakes it for a Tic Tac and eats it.

    • by novakyu (636495) <novakyu@member.fsf.org> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:23AM (#24066873) Homepage

      Even if it has a crumple zones, I could see it being sent flying across the road like a hockeypuck, or it's lack of mass being unable to stop the forward progress of the impacting vehicle after the impact.

      Why does it need to physically stop the other car? I don't think I'd mind being sent across the road like a hockeypuck, as long as each change in velocity (... probably collision-induced) is gentle enough to prevent damage to my body. I couldn't care less if the truck that hits me has enough forward momentum to go across America.

      As long as it has crumple zones (remember---what you really care about is the acceleration of your own body (which gives the force on you), and that's inversely proportional to the distance you have to travel, given an initial and final velocity), I don't see how it's any less safer than a bulkier car with identical length of crumple zone.

      I recently rode in a coworkers SmartCar, and while it seemed like a great car, I realized that if were were rear ended, we'd be killed. There's about a foot between your back and the back of the car. Less than that of a Jeep Wrangler. My biggest fear would be having to stop quickly on the highway and the guy behind me doesn't stop in time.

      That should be fine---with your small mass, the other guy will simply end up pushing you forward.

      Now, it's a different question if you were stopped right in front of a cliff (either one that stands as a wall or one where the ground disappears beneath you), but in the normal traffic conditions, you will either get pushed forward by yourself, or as you are pushed forward, you will hit the car ahead of you. In either case, assuming that the passenger compartment is strong, the mass of your car itself has no bearing on safety.

      Anybody have any good arguments for justifying these ultra-light cars (VW, SmartCar) to those that do equate a certain size=safety measure?

      Well, tell them about how "safe" SUVs are, with its frequent rollovers. If that doesn't convince them bigger != safer, well, I do think the gene pool would benefit from their decision.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Solandri (704621)

        As long as it has crumple zones (remember---what you really care about is the acceleration of your own body (which gives the force on you), and that's inversely proportional to the distance you have to travel, given an initial and final velocity), I don't see how it's any less safer than a bulkier car with identical length of crumple zone.

        The physics of collisions dictates that the final velocity is weighted in favor of the larger mass (momentum balance). So the larger mass experiences a small velocity ch

    • No Problem (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TransEurope (889206) <eniac.uni-koblenz@de> on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:25AM (#24066897)
      Simply kick all the senseless SUVs, Trucks, Offroaders and so on off the streets.
      If there are only light cars around, no one get's hit by a 2.5 ton doctor's wife with her Porsche Cayenne.
      It's really time for it. And by the way, if your car is extremely light, an much heavier opponent in an accidend would push your micocompact away instead of crushing through it. Especially if the microcompact is made of an robust security cell (see the Samrts Tridion Security Cell) or a Formula One like cage of carbon fiber like the VW 1L. I assume there are almost no more secure big cars around as these compacts are.
    • People are killed all the time in big vehicles. My grandmother was crushed to death by the F250 she was ridding in. If a person is concerned with safety in a vehicle they should probably not drive. Sure you're safer in some vehicles in some sorts of accidents but you can be killed in a Hummer as easily as you can be killed in anything else...a big strong vehicle is a false sense of safety.
    • by mickwd (196449) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:29AM (#24066947)

      How big is a Formula 1 car, and what does it weigh?

      Ever seen some of the crashes that those F1 drivers just walk away from?

    • by Bazar (778572)

      There are certain advantages to being lightweight, but protection isn't one of them.

      I expect that any serious commercial adaption will have something like a roll bar built into it for additional protection to offset its light weight, as i expect it would get flung around a fair bit, even strong winds could present dangers if its too light.

      Saying that, i doubt there is anything you can do to justify it currently. The good news is that SUVs are a dieing breed currently, and as more people shift into lighter v

      • Fortunately, they are on the decline now. When I went to buy a car recently, the dealer was complaining about all the used SUVs coming in that they just couldn't get rid of.

      • by bhtooefr (649901)

        Oh, for fuck's sake, I drive a Mazda Miata (MX-5 in the rest of the world.) It weighs barely more than 2000 lbs, and something tells me it would actually do worse in a collision than this 1L car. (Remember, the 1L car will get thrown from the accident scene.)

        It's small enough and low enough that I usually have to look UP at the drivers of compact cars.

        Somehow, I do fine in this land of SUVs. I just... avoid them. :)

    • by dh003i (203189)

      Well, keep in mind that the size/safety argument is relative. How safe would that 3000 lb vehicle be if it was hit by a tank? ;-)

      Granted, I get the point; most cars in the US are a certain size. Cars significantly smaller than that are in danger of being flung around like a hockey puck if hit by those bigger cars.

      However, the flip-side is that a small car like this is likely to be more maneuverable, and more able to squeeze into tight space; hence, easier to avoid being hit in the first place...right?

    • by matt4077 (581118) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:38AM (#24067027) Homepage
      I've been in a full-on frontal collision between my smart roadster and a e-class mercedes. Both were totaled, and the resulting minor injuries were about equal on both sides. Construction is a lot more important than size and weight.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Inda (580031)
        I saw a Ford Transit go into the back of a Smart. The Smart bounced. The Transit crumpled. I was impressed.
    • by amper (33785)

      You realize, of course, that a 3000 lb car is pretty much a subcompact or compact car, right? Like, say, a 2900 lb Toyota Prius?

      Perhaps you are more worried about getting hit by 6000 lb "light truck". Like, say, a 6400 lb Hummer H2?

    • by weinerdog (181465)

      The relative size disparity is an issue, and maybe part of the solution is to start imposing size limits on passenger vehicles if people driving SUVs are forcing other drivers to drive larger cars out of self-preservation.

      At the same time, part of being a good driver involves paying attention to what is behind you as well as in front of you, and maintaining both a safe stopping distance as well as an escape route so you can swerve away if someone is coming up behind you too fast. Complacent drivers are at r

    • Or maybe all weather scooters. Sure, they could be deadly in a collision with a much larger vehicle, but I don't choose my cars or vehicles based on worse-case scenarios. This is basically a modernized 4 wheel Messerschmitt or BMW Isetta, or any other of the various micro cars produced over the years. I ride a bicycle daily, I'm well aware that I could be killed by a Mini Cooper, let alone a Hummer.

      See http://microcarmuseum.com/index.html [microcarmuseum.com] if you want to look at several micro-cars.
    • by Stevecrox (962208)
      If care about roadsafety try looking at its NCAP results, in europe all cars have to go through a standardised set of results. The tests cover things from survival in various head/side on collisions to the survival of any pedestrians you hit. Unfortunatly I can't seem to load the homepage atm, but the site address is http://www.euroncap.com/ [euroncap.com] and remember bigger isn't always best.
  • or are you just REALLY happy to see me?

  • Be sure to let us know how the NHTSA tests go for this vehicle.

    If the vehicle needs to be modified to pass the tests, what sort of milage do you expect to see? I suspect it would wind up with an EPA rating around 60 MPG.

  • I just need somewhere to go with a midget and a lunchbox.

  • by amper (33785) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:28AM (#24066933) Journal

    I'd rather see VW work on an improved version of the GX3 concept. If they enclosed it for better aerodynamics and reduced the engine power from the concept's 125 bhp, they'd be able to eke out much better mileage than the measly 46 mpg of the prototype. There really wasn't any need for a 1.6 L engine in the GX3. They could have gone with the engine from the Lupo 3L, which was a 1.2 L inline three cylinder TDI engine that made 61 bhp.

    Of course, the first thing they should do is bring the Lupo 3L back to life and bring it to the US.

    The Lupo 3L weighed about 1830 lb, and the GX3 weighed about about 1260 lb, so you can see that the Lupo 3L engine would still give quite interesting performance in the GX3 chassis, and the fuel consumption, with a new aerodynamic, enclosed chassis for the GX3 should enable that configuration to easily reach at least the ~80 mpg of the Lupo 3L, and probably even better that figure by a good margin, while offering the advantages of side-by-side seating.

  • I think this is a great design, but the canopy leaves me with one concern. How would you get out of the car if it rolled over? With the one-piece canopy door, you could easily end up stuck inside the car if it were flipped or rolled. And there's so little space inside, you likely wouldn't be able to kick out the glass, since you probably wouldn't have space to retract your legs to make a strong kick.

    That said, I think it would be great for over 90% of commutes.
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:41AM (#24067063)
    Something Americans just do not get is that these vehicles are to a greater or lesser extent motorcycle replacements. If you visit the rainy Stuttgart area you will rapidly see that the Smart is often used there where in warmer, drier countries you would use a motorcycle. This VW concept is basically what a well off German with eco credentials might want to show off with where his US counterpart might buy a Harley or a Gold Wing.

    More people in the world with high disposable incomes drive on roads where American SUVs are in a small minority. Here in the UK SUVs have been making inroads which have come to a sudden halt as fuel approaches $3/liter. On the other hand, the sales of class A,B and C vehicles - microcars, minis and superminis - are rising fast. Expect European roads to look rather different in 2010, when the first of the new technologies really start to reach the market.

    The guy who wrote the article did not get this - quoting US gallons is pretty irrelevant. 1 liter/100km, or miles per UK gallon, are appropriate because that is where they will be used.

  • If this 2 seater can get ~235 mpg a slightly bigger 4 seater should be able to get ~100-150 mpg I would think.
  • by caseih (160668) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:59AM (#24067211)

    235 MPG is impressive, and this concept car is *really* cool looking, which is a rare thing when it comes to super efficient, futuristic concept cars. While I really doubt will see cars like this on the road anytime soon, this car does bring to mind some things, though, particularly in the weight department. If we took our current engine technologies (not even hybrid) and put them in much lighter cars, we'd likely be able to have cars average close to 100 MPG without any special work.

    Compared to light cars in the 1970s, our cars are much heavier (1000-2000 pounds heavier on average), but produce much, much more power from the same amount of gas than engines in the 70s did. Not to mention they are now better looking than the boxes of the 70s.

    Basically all the extra efficiency our engines now have is pretty much wasted by the fact that we're hauling around so much extra weight. If we lighten our cars a bit and then stop this silly addiction to "power" (really acceleration), we'd be a long ways closer to practical cars that get 100 MPG right now. That'd pave the way for mass appeal of cars like this VW concept.

  • Or is it?
    http://www.myersmotors.com/ [myersmotors.com]

    These were being developed/sold in the late 90s, but Corbin Motors went bankrupt well before the prices on gas shot up. Ironically, there is a huge market for their tri wheel enclosed scooter today, they just came in ahead of the game.

    http://www.3wheelers.com/corbin.html [3wheelers.com]

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