A group of university students from France have done what the Big-3 can only dream of, develop a car that can travel more than 11,000 miles on the equivalent of a single a gallon of gasoline.
Team Polyjule of Polytech Nantes built the ultralight, single-seat streamliner for the the Shell Eco-marathon competition in Lausitz, Germany. It is one of a series of fuel economy challenges sponsored by the energy company that are held worldwide each year.
On Friday, just a day after breaking the 10,000 miles per gallon equivalent (mpge) barrier, the team set a new record of 11, 516 mpge, although the car technically didn't use any gasoline at all. Instead, it is an electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell which provides energy in place of a battery. The amount of hydrogen used was then converted into its gasoline equivalent using the energy density of the two fuels to make the comparison.
Competitors in the Eco-marathon are allowed to use just about any fuel source, everything from plain old premium gasoline to biodiesel to solar power. However, the vehicles aren't actually driven 11K miles. Instead, they run over a much shorter course, only a few miles, at very low speeds, using just a tiny bit of their chosen fuel. The results are then converted to mpge to create the eye-popping figures seen above.
Of course you shouldn't expect to see anything like Team Polyjule's car in showrooms anytime soon. The tight-fitting car is worn like clothing more than sat in, and has virtually no practical applications, as is. The idea behind the competition, which was first held in 1939, is drive innovation in new automotive technologies, and get people excited about fuel efficiency.
After Seventy-one years they may actually be getting there.