Tour de Sol 2005 - The Results are In

A couple of week ago we wrote about the Tour de Sol. Well, now it's over for this year and the results are in. The three main competitions are the Tour de Sol Championship, for cars striving for zero oil use and GHG emissions, the Monte Carlo-style Rally, for on-the-market hybrid and biodiesel cars, and the E-Bike, Scooter and NEV event for "around town" vehicles. See below the fold for the winners and their achievements...The 100 mpg challenge was not won this time, although a modified Honda Insight driven by Brian Hardegen of Pepperell, MA, came close with 94 mpg. Here's part of the press release:

In the production vehicle division (i.e. unmodified vehicles) [Monte Carlo-style Rally], the top hybrid-vehicle winners include a Honda Insight driven by Charles Sullivan of Hanover, NH, which averaged 81 miles per gallon, and a second Hybrid Insight driven by Mike Lewis of Portland, ME, which averaged 79 MPG. They achieved the best results for production vehicles in the Monte Carlo-style Rally, which required participants to drive their vehicles at least 150 miles during the competition. While Sullivan got slightly more miles per gallon than Lewis, the difference was too small to determine precisely.

The top finishers in the biodiesel category of the Monte Carlo-style Rally were a Volkswagen Passat driven by David Glynn of Westboro, MA, and Karl Roenig of Clifton Park, NY, which averaged 77 MPG, and a Mercedes SMART car driven by Hugo Marsolais of Saint-Jerome, Quebec, which averaged 75 MPG. While Glynn and Roenig achieved a bit more miles per gallon than Marsolais, the refueling process was too inaccurate to gauge exactly.

The most interesting overall vehicle was the novel "plug-in" hybrid demonstrated by Valence Technology as well as Energy Control Systems Engineering Inc. (doing business as EnergyCS LLC) in Monrovia, CA. This is a modified Toyota Prius with a much larger battery pack than the normal Prius, and charged with external grid power. On a 150-mile run, this vehicle achieved nearly 102 MPG on the gasoline used, but also utilized 10 kilowatt-hours of electricity required to charge the special lithium-ion batteries. When computing the total energy used, including the grid power, the net effective mileage was only 67 MPG, which is still highly commendable. Although this vehicle would be relatively expensive to buy, if available today, due to extra battery cost, plug-in hybrids may become a viable future technology.

In the Tour de Sol Championship, which showcases concept vehicles built by students and entrepreneurs as well as some production vehicles, all but two of the entrants approached zero oil use by powering their vehicles with biodiesel, electricity, solar or natural gas. Of these, St. Mark’s High School in Southboro, MA, and North Haven Community School, North Haven, ME, demonstrated true zero-oil consumption and true zero climate-change emissions with their modified electric Ford pick-up and Volkswagen bus, respectively, At home, they recharge their vehicles from wind and solar – demonstrating what can be done when electric vehicles are recharged by "clean electricity", which can be purchased throughout the U.S.

The E-bike and NEV Competition attracted over a dozen vehicles ranging from recumbent electric tricycles, to stand-up scooters, electric bicycles, and 4-wheeled /4-passenger NEVs (neighborhood electric vehicles). What all these vehicles have in common is that they run on electricity and are designed to meet our needs for local "around town" trips. The incredible efficiency of these lightweight vehicles truly demonstrates what can be achieved in the field of fuel efficiency. Opti-Bike LLC in Boulder, CO, took first place with its pedal-assisted electric bike.

This information, and more, is available from the Tour de Sol website. Lots of interesting stuff over there. I raise my hat to everyone who participated this year!

::NESEA -Tour de Sol 2005

[by MGR]