What's Wrong With This Picture: The Very Model Of A Modern Mainstream Automobile Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
what s wrong with this picture the very model of a modern mainstream automobile

The Automotive X-Prize is over, and the Edison2 Team has won the “Mainstream” class with its Very Light Car. It may not look like any mainstream car you’ve seen recently, but it does fit four passengers, offers air-con, heater, an audio system, and a 200 mile range. And using a 250 cc ethanol engine, it got 102.5 MPGe, while accelerating to 60 MPH in 14.2 seconds. But this was not necessarily a hard-fought victory: Edison2 was the only team that even made it into the finals in the “Mainstream” class. Meanwhile, the X-Tracer motorcycle shown above won the “Alternative” class. In fact, it won the whole damn competition with 197 MPGe while accelerating to 60 MPH in just over 6 seconds. So, despite the ego-boosting rhetoric from Nancy Pelosi, and the other politicians speaking at the awards ceremony, the Automotive X-Prize didn’t so much advance America closer towards a fuel-efficient future as it proved that motorcycles are way more efficient than cars are. The much-maligned gas guzzlers that we know as “mainstream cars” are in little danger from this lot.



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  • Djoelt1 Djoelt1 on Sep 16, 2010

    I think the better way to look at these cars is, when gasoline is $20 per gallon we can still drive a private car. If you march down to your local car dealer and the only thing they have on the lot is cars like this, are you going to skip car ownership and ride the bus? Didn't think so. The bigger question is, if people would drive this rather than take the bus, why not do it now and prevent gas from ever reaching $20 per gallon?

    • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Sep 16, 2010
      The bigger question is, if people would drive this rather than take the bus, why not do it now and prevent gas from ever reaching $20 per gallon? Because that's COMMUNISM!

  • Facebook User Facebook User on Sep 17, 2010

    Motorcycles already CAN get ~ 100mpg+ regularly. Google for KLR650 diesel. If only they'd be mass produced...The military (supposedly) buys a lot of these. For those of you unfamiliar with the KLR650 it's (in gas form) a 35hp or so bike that can do 90mph witout much trouble. Even stock rebel 250's can get 85'ish and creep up to 70mph or so. If you commute on this for 6k miles/year, the difference between this $2k used 85mpg bike and one that gets 200mpg is not much. 6000/85=70.5 6000/200=30 at $20 gallon, the difference is $800/year. For that $800 you get (probably) cheaper parts, a proven design (20 years+?) a probably more comfortable riding position and a dealer network that exists everywhere. Add in cost of tires (special for this "e" motorcycle?) parts (also special?) original cost (??), insurance, etc and it would take forever to make up the difference. I'd gamble that the rebel is cheaper & a better buy on pretty much all front's.

  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.
  • Craiger Honestly I was incredibly disappointed by the lack of steering feel. I dropped off my 530 at the dealer in New Jersey and picked up the Z. Driving all of my familiar roads I was just shocked at how much info wasn't coming through the wheel. Because of that I was never able to push the Z like I did the 530.
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