Drive ten thousand miles on a gallon of petrol?
June 25, 2005 5:19 AM   Subscribe

Shell Eco Marathon UK is coming up in England (6-7 july). It is a race not for the swift, but for those who can drive immense distances in super-efficient vehicles. Two years ago, the current world record of 10,706 MPG was set at one of these events. The lessons learned are useful in development in other fuel-efficient cars, such as the 100 MPG Honda Insight. Interesting in these times of high oil prices, then, when considering that despite tactical driving, normal petrol cars rarely get better than 45 MPG. Diesels are slightly better, as illustrated on BBC Top Gear, where Clarkson drives an Audi A8 from London to Edinburgh and back on a single tank of diesel. That's 800 miles.
posted by SharQ (13 comments total)
Holy moly ! - 10,000+ MPG

It seemed impossible to me, but there's the story ( see the "10,706 MPG" link ) plain as day.

This renders all the more paleolithic the attitudes of those who would invade ( perhaps ) foreign nations or despoil wildlife preserves in order to secure enough oil to power absurdly inefficient vehicles.

Such outdated, selfish views seem to fundamentally discount or mistrust human creative genius.
posted by troutfishing at 6:19 AM on June 25, 2005

Before you get too excited troutfishing, these vehicles are highly specialized. They seat one (small) driver in a fully reclined position, they travel no faster than the competition minimum - 15mph, and they do away with anything that would add unnescessary weight. They would be just as practical for everyday driving as solar cars.

Also, as a student competition, I would be (pleasantly) surprised if they developed any technologies useful in the design of cars like the Insight. I've been in similar competitions, and just building a vehicle from scratch was challenge enough.

That shouldn't take away from how cool these competitions are, and how important it is to get new engineers excited about designing efficiently.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:35 AM on June 25, 2005

Hey, I know that. Of course these are experimental vehicles optimized for one thing only - mpg. That's a given.

Still, there's quite a spread between the 35 mpg my Honda Civic gets and that 10,000+ mpg record.
posted by troutfishing at 6:42 AM on June 25, 2005

In my car - a bog-standard Rover 200 1.4 liter 16v twin cam - I can just about manage 43 MPG when driving extremely carefully, roughly following the tips outlined in the "tactical driving" link above. It works surprisingly well, but it does make driving exceptionally boring.

I must say that the whole concept excites me a lot.
posted by SharQ at 7:45 AM on June 25, 2005

I can see the possible "benefits to humanity" in this event, but I've often wondered (but never taken the time to research) about what or how NASCAR, Formula 1, etc. has done to improve the human condition?
posted by jaronson at 7:52 AM on June 25, 2005

NASCAR and Formula 1 tends to be a testbed for new automotive technologies, a lot of which actually lead to more efficient cars.
posted by thebestsophist at 8:47 AM on June 25, 2005

It seemed impossible to me, but there's the story ( see the "10,706 MPG" link ) plain as day.

This renders all the more paleolithic the attitudes of those who would invade ( perhaps ) foreign nations or despoil wildlife preserves in order to secure enough oil to power absurdly inefficient vehicles.

Well, keep in mind the car in question was driven by a small child. It would probably get much worse gas mileage if it was strong and large enough for a full sized adult.
posted by delmoi at 12:53 PM on June 25, 2005

Also, i thought the insight got like 50 mpg or so.
posted by delmoi at 12:55 PM on June 25, 2005

Shouldn't we take issue with the fact that it's still burning gas? I like the American Solar Challenge idea. As noted, it's a student competition that is unlikely to help with the development of actual production vehicles, but still.... I realize the value of developing efficient technologies, but shouldn't we focus just as much on coming up with some better alternatives?

Shell are better than Exxon (Subscription required; reprinted free of charge here.), but they're still an oil concern, after all. We (public citizens, the elected governments who represent us) need to be doing the investment. In America it's rather pathetic how little we spend on it. Seriously. It's less than half of what is spent on the office of the secretary of the DOT, and the RSPA (now known as RITA) was in charge of HAZMAT stuff, too!

Maybe ::cough:: Mineta's reforms will fix things.
posted by tarheelcoxn at 5:27 PM on June 25, 2005

I've done 760 miles on a tank in my Ought-two Jetta TDI. Where ya at prius owners? p4wn3d, that's where.
posted by jmgorman at 8:53 AM on June 26, 2005

jmgorman: Don't get too cocky. Your TDI still gets a big fat 0 from the EPA for air pollution. You may be saving at the pump, but you're pumping out more carcinogous particulates than the worst gas vehicles.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:45 PM on June 26, 2005

Popular Ethics: Particle filters are being fitted in an increasing number of diesels sold in Europe. That ought to take care of the pollution problem, with a much simpler setup than all the gadgets necessary to make an hybrid run.
posted by Skeptic at 4:54 PM on June 26, 2005

...what the hell is 'petrol'? Where is this 'Eng' land of which you speak? Near Toledo? *accepts award for ugly American*
I like driving in a nice ballistic arc between stoplights. As a result I get waaaay more miliage out of my pickup truck than I should. It always irritates me to see people accelerate hard then brake hard, shift lanes, accelerate hard, cut in front of the guy ahead of me, brake, then stop for the stop light so they are one half a car length ahead of me.
I suppose as you get older, gas miliage gets sexier than torque. Although I haven't reached the coothood 'do' of shouting out loud in disbelief at gas prices as I pass gas stations.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2005

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