The 100 Mile-Per-Gallon Alternative Car

100 mpg with off-the-shelf technology? Jack McCornack isn’t crazy, he just believes cars can have a lot better fuel economy than we’ve settled for historically. Enter MAX — the MOTHER EARTH NEWS entry in the Auto X Prize competition, a $10 million race for 100 mile-per-gallon alternative cars. This article details MAX’s origins and the early stages of its development.

| August/September 2008

Without any whiz-bang technology, we’re building a 100 mile-per-gallon alternative car for the Auto X Prize competition. MAX may not win the Auto X Prize, but it will prove a point that 100 mpg is within reach without futuristic technology.

The 100 Mile-Per-Gallon Alternative Car

There’s a contest underway to build 100-mile-per-gallon (mpg) cars that are practical and feasible for mass-production. Known as the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, it will award $10 million to whomever can crack the 100-mpg puzzle and best demonstrate the achievement during cross-country races. When the races start in 2009, I’ll be behind the wheel of a sporty two-seater that will be as cool as it will be fuel-efficient.

Through a series of MOTHER EARTH NEWS articles and updates online, and at Kinetic Vehicles you can come along for the ride.

Who are You, and How did You Get This Awesome Gig?

I’m Jack McCornack, and I have a history of tinkering with “alternative” vehicles. I was an energy conserve-and-economize zealot before Jimmy Carter wore a cardigan. In the early ’70s, when we were only allowed to buy gas every other day, I drove past the long gas lines in a homemade contraption that got 125 mpg. In the late ’70s, while working with MOTHER EARTH NEWS, I made aircraft that got 40 mpg on home-brewed alcohol, and I helped with the tilting, three-wheeled 3VG concept vehicle. (You can read the original articles about these projects in The Flight of the Microlights and a two-part series Hey, Take a Look at Our Three-Wheeled Car and A Hybrid Vehicle Leaning Toward the Future: The 3VG (PART II).) These days, my latest company, Kinetic Vehicles, supplies parts (and sage advice) for lightweight do-it-yourself sports cars.

After a more than 30-year snooze, our country is waking up to the fact that treehuggers of yore were right — we’re running out of easy oil, if not all oil. So now the time is right for me to tinker anew and throw my hat into the Auto X Prize ring. The timing couldn’t be better: I’ve been building another cheapskate vehicle that just might fill the bill.

$10 million!! What is this X Prize thing?

The X Prize Foundation has an intriguing system of sparking technological breakthroughs: “revolution through competition.” The basic idea is to set lofty goals and give big money to the individuals or companies who best meet those goals. The contests are named after the people or companies who put up the prize money, which is how Progressive Insurance got in on the act for this X Prize. (For more on the Auto X Prize, see Racing to a Revolution.)

4/23/2014 5:15:14 PM

Hello, I have been looking for HHO kit. I found one of the kits below, but not sure it is worthwhile to purchase. Can you please recommend good HHO kit, which you tried? My target is 20% MPG increase with reasonable ROI. Thank you in advance!

john teague_2
2/13/2009 10:36:48 AM

how much does or will it coast now?

Tim Flinn
2/11/2009 9:34:11 AM

The Locust (low cost) was based on the Lotus 7 (now the Caterham) that, depending on engine used, can hit 150mph)and can out accelerate every Italian super car. The orginal Lotus 7 was a kit car. The Locust like the Lotus orginated in Britain in the last ice age. The French sell the Maxem (Maxham?) which is based upon motor cycle parts, uses the Kubota diesel and does 90mpg (or so a proud owner claimed to me) but top speed is not sixty. It is a weather proof four seater (for 4 tiny Frenchfolk). It is road legal in Europe, but I wouldn't want to crash into anything larger than an empty matchbox. Look it up on the web.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. 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 $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard