Super-High Mileage Cars

Download Audio

Here's the next big competition coming down the road: a $25 million dollar prize to the builder of the first commercially-viable 100 mile per gallon car.

The crew that mounted the $10 million dollar X Prize for the first reusable private spacecraft is now looking to America's highways, at global warming, and at American cars that in 2007 average fuel consumption of 25 miles a gallon — no better than the ancient, clattering, old Model T.

They don't want a cramped gizmobile that makes you sit upside down and pedal with your feet. They want a real, salable car — that brings a revolution in mileage.

This hour On Point: the Automotive X Prize, and the race for the 100 mile per gallon car.

Quotes from the Show:

"Our goal is really simple — it's to inspire a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles that help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change. And we're gonna do that by offering a really large cash purse that will be awarded to teams that win a stage race for these clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon, or the equivalent fuel economy." John Shore

"They need be cars that are safe, that are manufacturable, that have a reasonable story of being able to succeed on the marketplace in significant quantities, and only then will they get in our stage race." John Shore

"Last October we successfully tested [the Aptera] in one of our many highway tests and achieved over 200 miles per gallon with the car configured as a pure diesel. Currently right now, the car is all electric — that's more than likely the first car that will be brought to production, a combination of wither all electric or base electric drive, and then possibly configured as a serial hybrid." Steve Fambro

"A 100 mile per gallon car is technically feasible. We can go way beyond that. It's good that we see how far we can go with those objectives because we got to transition bit by bit." John Heywood

"All of the Detroit car companies have been exploring this technology for years. ...But that's where, to use a phrase, practicality collides with the business case. To them [car makers] everything is the business case first and other issues after that." Micheline Maynard



John Shore, Senior Director at Automotive X Prize, a project of the X Prize Foundation

John Heywood, Professor at MIT's Mechanical Engineering Department and Director of the Sloan Automotive Lab

Micheline Maynard, Detroit Bureau Chief for the NY Times

Steve Fambro, Founder and CEO of Aptera Motors and developer of the Aptera 230-mpg vehicle

This program aired on March 21, 2007.


More from On Point

Listen Live