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Super-light car bags $5m fuel efficiency prize

By Nairita Das

London, Sep 17 (ANI): The main prize of a 10-million-dollar challenge to design a car capable of 100 miles per gallon (mpg) has gone to the makers of a futuristic-looking vehicle that weighs half as much as a Smart Car.

The contest, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X prize, was meant to spur the development of a new generation of super-efficient cars with mass-market potential. A Toyota Prius hybrid can get to about 51 mpg, but the main prize went to a design that opted for an internal combustion motor, rather than an electric engine.

The Edison2 Very Light Car Number 98, made by a Virginia company, took home 5m dollars for its use of lightweight materials and superior aerodynamics.

The car is powered by a single-cylinder motorcycle engine, which burns a mix of 85 pc ethanol and 15 pc gasoline, mounted at the back of an extremely lightweight frame. The designers, mainly former racing-car drivers, opted for an internal combustion engine rather than an electric car, because batteries add weight.

"Electric cars have real issues. Batteries are heavy, big and costly ... cars get heavier, performance suffers and costs go up," the Guardian quoted The Edison2 blog as saying.

The entire car, which some have likened to a helicopter or an egg on wheels, weighs 377kg (830lb). The Smart Car is about 726kg. The four-seater is entered via the window, like a racecar.

It has the basics: a top speed of 100mph, enough acceleration to cope with traffic, a heater and basic air conditioning, great fuel economy and, according to Edison2's owner, a realistic price tag.

Oliver Kuttner, a race car driver, said it is made of low-cost and recylcable materials and could potentially go on sale for 20,000 dollars. (ANI)

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