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Posted at 12:13 PM ET, 07/23/2010

Va. team last standing in car competition

By Washington Post editors

A Charlottesville-based team is the last one standing in an international competition to design a car that can travel 100 miles on a single gallon of fuel.

But that doesn't mean entrepreneur Oliver Kuttner's Edison2 team will win the $5 million prize.

First, one of its two Very Light Car designs remaining in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition in Michigan must pass tests of its safety, maneuverability and range before undergoing mileage and emissions validation testing.

On Thursday, Italian auto racing champion Emanuele Pirro drove the futuristic, silver bullet-like Very Light Cars in five-lap intervals around the Michigan International Speedway to test its highway mileage ratings. Earlier in the week, the vehicles were tested for city and suburban mileage. To advance, the vehicles must meet the X Prize's high fuel efficiency standards, which are modeled after EPA ratings.

“Our target a year ago was to get 110 miles per gallon. I suspect we're going to hit our target,” Kuttner said. “We're chasing a number that has never been done before.” More than 80 other teams entered the competition, which requires that cars have room for four people, travel at least 200 miles without refueling, accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 15 seconds, and meet or exceed 100 miles per gallon.

The Very Light Car, which Kuttner calls “brutally efficient,” weighs less than 800 pounds and is powered by a small engine that runs on E85, a mix of gasoline and ethanol.

Brad Jaeger, a racecar driver, engineer and Edison2's director of research and development, said he was confident about the cars' chances of meeting the remaining requirements needed to win the X Prize.

If both vehicles meet all the requirements to win the X Prize, the one that performs best will win the $5 million award.

Steve Weslosoki, director of technical operations for the X Prize, said he sees Edison2's Very Light Car as a potential “paradigm shifter.” It may not look like the typical car on the roads today, he said, but its concept and performance shows it could be viable.

Edison2 has a third car in the X Prize competition's “alternative” class, which seats two people. Three other teams are competing in that category, which carries a $2.5 million prize.
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Information from: The Daily Progress, http://www.dailyprogress.com

By Washington Post editors  | July 23, 2010; 12:13 PM ET
Categories:  Traffic and Transportation, Virginia  
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