Sunday, March 18, 2007

Race To The 100 MPG Car

Recently we highlighted GM's "can't do" attitude when it comes to producing more fuel efficient cars, with GM CEO Rick Waggoner whining to Congress about any effort to impose even slightly higher mileage standards on auto makers.

Here's an article, from Popular Science (as reprinted on CNN) making a good case for our other point about GM: if it can't make a better car, someone else will, because the market demands it.

The article discusses three technologies currently being explored by small companies that may one day make it big. One uses a low weigh, low drag concept that it hopes will result in an auto with up to 330 mpg at a cost of $20,000. The second uses hybrid technology, but replaces the heavy, expensive batteries with a small, relatively cheap hydraulic pump that can nearly double fuel economy. The third, and more radical, approach takes a page from jet engine technology to vastly increase the efficiency of the fuel used.

Will any of these make it big? Hard to say--it's not the first time some new technology has been hailed as a possible breakthrough. This time could be different, however: the X-Prize Foundation, which offered a $10 million prize to independent rocket makers for a space breakthrough, is apparently prepared to offer a $25 million prize to the first successful manufacturer of a 100 mpg car that can achieve an as yet to be set sales goal.

So, if GM can't do, maybe someone else can.


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