Green Transportation

Moving toward a transportation system that fuels healthy people and a healthy planet.

Add to My MSN

Enter MAX: 100 mpg or Bust

7/11/2008 7:42:12 AM

Tags: MAX, Auto X Prize, 100 mpg, gas mileage

Hello, I'm Jack McCornack, and this is the first blog entry in the chronicles of MAX, the Mother Earth News Automotive X Prize entry.

The Progressive Insurance Auto X Prize is a competition to develop high-mileage vehicles. You can read more about it here and here, but in brief, the target is 100 miles per gallon, and the cars have to be suitable for mass production. 

Oh, sure, the $10 million in prize money is attractive, but the big outfits say that's a drop in the bucket compared to what it takes to develop such a car. But then again, for an automaker, the publicity of winning would be worth much more than the prize money.

For Mother Earth News and me, the prize money doesn't matter because we aren't going to win any of it. We're in this to show what concerned do-it-yourselfers can do on a small budget, with readily available materials and present day technology. And if that's only 90 percent as good as the winners, well heck, I wouldn't mind driving a 90-mpg car that I built myself. Will it be suitable for mass production? You bet. In fact, it'll be so suitable for production that when we're done, we're going to tell you how to produce one of your own.

Last summer, I showed up at the Mother Earth News headquarters for the first time in a quarter century. While the faces had changed, the spirit felt the same. I met with Cheryl Long (the editor in chief) and John Rockhold (the green transportation editor) and we talked about old times. Even though this time I was the old-timer, the conversation followed a familiar path: what can we do to make things better?

Personally, I think Mother Earth News’ greatest contribution (cue the violin music) has been seeding our nation with (stirring trumpets enter here) folks who are happy with conservation (kettle drums, muffled snares), despite living in a culture where highest honors are given to (rim shot) waste and excess (whoopie cushion). Seriously now, how can people take pride in houses with 4,000 square feet of floor space per resident, and cars that get 11 mpg, and ...?

So after I stopped jumping up and down and foaming at the mouth, the editors said, “Yes! Let's do it, let's demonstrate that dramatic improvements in fuel economy are within reach. Jack, you’re the project manager — go for it! But please wipe that foam off your mouth, it looks creepy.”

And that's how MAX got started.

Look for much more on the infant days of MAX in Here Comes the 100-mpg Car. And follow our progress through this blog, the Green Energy & Great Homes e-newsletter and my Kinetic Vehicles Web site.

Stay tuned, this is going to be a heckuva fun ride.



Related Content

Day in the Life of a Wood Gas Driver, Part 1

Ever wondered what its like to drive around using wood as fuel? Tag along with Chris as he fires up ...

How do I Hone Woodworking Skills to Become Expert Trim Carpenter?

Steve Maxwell, “Canada’s Handiest Man”, outlines some suggestions on how to become an expert carpent...

MAX Update No. 44: Responses to Sharp Criticisms

Is MAX an actual modern-day vehicle, or just a high school shop class experiment? In this update, Ja...

Do You Check Your Car's Gas Mileage?

How often, if ever, do you check your the gas mileage of your car or truck? Did you know it's super ...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

Tom Whitehead
10/30/2008 5:23:30 PM
kudos to Jack for pointing the way. It's sad to say that we can't count on our political leaders to do anything, nor can we count on big business either. Chevrolet took out a full-page ad in the scientific American ballyhooing that their Chevy Tahoe had been selected "green car of the year". At 14 miles to the gallon (city). so now we are left to our own devices, so we'd better get working.and that's the beauty of the Locust concept, you can pretty much do anything you want with it. if you want more ground clearance, just mount the suspension a little bit lower.if you want a little more carrying capacity, stretch the frame out a bit, or add a trailer hitch. I've been looking into a lower-cost engine alternative. It turns out that Thermo king refrigerator units (or freezer units) used a four-cylinder Daimler Benz engine that would probably be ideal. It was the same engine that they used in their automobiles from 1953 to 1962. at that time they were rated at 40 hp at 3200 rpm They kept producing them as an industrial engine up into the 80s. they derated them to 25 hp.I don't know what they did to derate them, but they might just have turned them a little slower. I hope this helps, Tom

Tom Whitehead
10/30/2008 5:23:05 PM
kudos to Jack for pointing the way. It's sad to say that we can't count on our political leaders to do anything, nor can we count on big business either. Chevrolet took out a full-page ad in the scientific American ballyhooing that their Chevy Tahoe had been selected "green car of the year". At 14 miles to the gallon (city). so now we are left to our own devices, so we'd better get working.and that's the beauty of the Locust concept, you can pretty much do anything you want with it. if you want more ground clearance, just mount the suspension a little bit lower.if you want a little more carrying capacity, stretch the frame out a bit, or add a trailer hitch. I've been looking into a lower-cost engine alternative. It turns out that Thermo king refrigerator units (or freezer units) used a four-cylinder Daimler Benz engine that would probably be ideal. It was the same engine that they used in their automobiles from 1953 to 1962. at that time they were rated at 40 hp at 3200 rpm They kept producing them as an industrial engine up into the 80s. they derated them to 25 hp.I don't know what they did to derate them, but they might just have turned them a little slower. I hope this helps, Tom

Jack McCornack
7/16/2008 5:56:48 PM
>Is the MEN version going to be able to handle rural roads and lifestyles? Rural roads? You bet; MAX will go anywhere a 28-year-old Toyota Corolla wil go. Lifestyle? If you're lugging haybales 'twixt field and barn, it's going to take you a lot of trips. My own rural lifestyle doesn't include livestock, so I've got it easy, but in general, I favor multiple vehicles as appropriate for multiple tasks.

Jerry_1
7/15/2008 6:36:26 PM
If Chevron had not bought up the patent rights to the Nickel-Metal Hydride(Please excuse spelling) batteries, then we might have working electric cars at this time. We may even would have hybrids that are way better than what they are now.

John Edward Mercier
7/14/2008 10:50:02 AM
Is the MEN version going to be able to handle rural roads and lifestyles? Urbanites have the option of mass transit, but we simply don't.

gregbmet
7/11/2008 7:55:59 PM
I am interested in the HHO (Hydrogen) introduce into the combustion chamber to supplement the vaporized gas sort of things. Does any one have any thing they are willing to share on this that they have seen work. I am thinking of experimenting with my daughters 2.0L engine 98 VW Jetta to start with because I can't keep her off the road.







Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.