How To Make Awesome Cars A Reality (330 mpg diesel-hybrid)

This concept car is amazing! It is a 2-seat, 3-wheel serial (bio)diesel hybrid called the Aptera: It achieves 330 miles per gallon (0.7 liter/100 kilometers!) in normal city and highway driving, has a 0.055-0.06 coefficient of drag (much lower than even the best current hybrids, and even than other cool prototypes like the 70 mpg Boxfish diesel hybrid by DaimlerChrysler) and a projected price of less than $20,000. Great uh? But the reaction of most people when they look at it is: "It'll never pass safety tests! You'd get run over by an Escalade!"They are most probably right; if that vehicle was to be on our roads at the same time as the huge vehicles we currently have, it would be at a ginormous safety disadvantage. But if it was on the road with other vehicles of the same type (not necessarily as small, but in the same ballpark of weight and efficiency -- we'd gladly settle for the bigger 200 mpg biodisel-hybrid compromise that could be designed using the same technologies), the playing fiel would be level and safety would not be such a problem. It is the same thing with SUVs vs cars; road mortality had been dropping for decades until suburbanites & other people who don't need them started buying trucks, and now road-safety has been compromised.

The real problem is: Even if we can make very efficient vehicles with radical new designs, how do we get them on the road? How do we make the transition from our current breed of heavy metal machines to small aerodynamic composite-materials hybrids (and fuel cells) without having both types share the pavement?

The faster that happens, the best it will be for all of us, but the way things are going, it will probably unfold in North-America is like this: oil will keep getting more expensive, SUVs sales will keep going down, cars will progressively slim down (Small Japanese Cars Are Coming to North-America, Again) and hybridizing until North-America catches up to Europe and Asia in vehicle size. Then it will be a lot more realistic to envision a move to such cool vehicles as the concept-hybrid mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Thanks to ::Green Car Congress for the info on the Aptera.

Accelerated Composites, a San Diego, California-area startup, has designed a two-seat, three-wheel parallel hybrid—the Aptera—to achieve up to 330 MPG and sell for less than $20,000. [...]

The production powertrain will consist of a 12 hp (9 kW) diesel engine with a 25 hp (19 kW) permanent magnet DC motor. (Accelerated Composites is designing the prototype with a gasoline engine for cost.) The electric motor is coupled through a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT); when the engine is off the car can run on the electric motor alone. [...]

The Aptera weighs 850 lbs and is made almost entirely of lightweight composites, based on Accelerated Composites’ Panelized Automated Composite Construction (PAC2) process. It accelerates from 0–60 mph in 11 seconds, and has a top speed of 95 mph.


::Accelerated Composites, ::A 330 mpg Car For Everyone (pdf)

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