Man Builds 100 MPG Lotus Replica that Runs on Homebrewed Biodiesel


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles
Kudos to Kinetic Vehicles!
There are tons of project cars all around the internet, but my favorites are DIY green super-efficient cars, especially those made for very little money. The 95 MPG Aerocivic is a good example, but MAX (short for Mother's Automotive X Prize), a 100 MPG Lotus Seven replica (kind of) that runs on biodiesel, is something else altogether!
Photo: Kinetic Vehicles
The Goal
The goal was to make a two seater that could be entered into the X Prize Challenge (though that didn't end up happening, see below). It should be fun, practical (to a degree), affordable ($10k for a DIYer), and get great fuel economy (100 MPG at cruising speed on the highway).

Picture above is the engine that was used. It's a turbo-charged 100cc Kubota is rated at 32 horsepower.

They haven't quite reached the MPG goal yet (they're around 70 MPG), but the car is a work in progress and they're still tweaking it and improving it (the latest news, from last month, are that they're working on the body).


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles

Above is the CAD of the body. It had to be aerodynamic to reduce drag, but also streamlined and simple to keep it low cost.


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles
Donor Car
A 1980s Toyota Corolla wagon was used as donor to get recycled driveline and suspension components. MAX truly has humble origins.

Jack McCornack writes: "Any rear wheel drive Corolla would do for our needs; the major components are pretty light (the five-speed overdrive transmission and the rear axle are of particular interest) and they were among the most common cars in America for about a decade...and that decade was a while ago so they're pretty dang cheap."


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles

Photo: Kinetic Vehicles

Photos of the first drive of the early, skeletal version of MAX.


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles
First Drive
Jack describes the first drives: "It's an exciting little car, and from a seat-of-the-pants standpoint, it doesn't seem lacking in horsepower. The low-end torque is admirable, and after half a dozen starts we quit using first gear--starting in second saves a shift and it gets off the line smartly that way. We were having too much fun for a car that accelerated faster than it stopped, and man, it corners great, but we really shouldn't have been pushing it like that before getting it a bit more finished...so after an hour or so, we parked it 'till it gets brakes and seats and belts and rollbar. But it goes all right and it's going to be lots of fun."


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles

If you're curious to know what was used to make it, you can see a list of parts used to make MAX and their prices.


Photo: Kinetic Vehicles

The photo above is of Son of MAX, a car that was built after the original MAX was totalled after being rear-ended during one of its inaugural drives. Lots of parts from the original could be re-used, and Son of MAX was even better than the original in that it was given the capability to run on straight vegetable oil (SVO), as well as diesel and biodiesel.

Sadly, Son of MAX has been withdrawn from the Automotive X Prize because it was too expensive to make it meet the new rules:

The final rules have no place for a DIY car, and preparing MAX (even on paper) for factory production -- as in 10,000 cars a year -- has been sucking up our resources like you wouldn't believe. In the last year I have literally spent more hours filling out X Prize Foundation paperwork than I've spent developing MAX, and MAX has suffered for it. Instead of working on streamlining to improve the car's gas mileage, I've been writing business plans and tech documents and getting price quotes, for every single part in the car. Imagine trying to figure out the cost of 20,000 windshield wiper blades to be delivered in five years, etc., etc., etc.

But Jack McCornack and Sharon Westcott won the Escape From Berkeley alternative fuel race using vegetable oil. They drove Son of MAX 800 miles without burning a drop of oil and won the $5,000 prize.

Via Kinetic Vehicles
More Green(er) Cars
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Tags: Biodiesel | Biofuels | Transportation

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