Racing for the Right Reasons: The Return of the Vetter Fuel Economy Challenges

| 1/23/2011 10:30:45 PM

Tags: Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contest, Craig Vetter,

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This is your invitation to challenge me in fun rides to see who can consume the least fuel in real driving conditions 

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History: Between 1980 and 1985, I hosted a series of Fuel Economy Contests to see what it took to consume the least amount of fuel in real driving conditions. The winners were streamlined, very small, with about 8-10 horsepower.  After 5 years, some of these pioneers were getting over 400 mpg.

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craig vetter
7/26/2011 9:04:13 AM

Frank said: "if there is anything more unsafe than high speeds, it is vehicles with greatly differing speeds on the same road. I cannot support such a concept." Greatly differing speeds? Well, in Illinois, the minimum freeway speed is 45 mph on roads marked 70 mph max. That is a difference of 25 mph. In California, vehicles pulling trailers are limited to 55 mph where others are allowed to go 70 mph. Most states are like this.

craig vetter
7/6/2011 9:34:07 PM

Frank: The Freedom Machine proposal: provides an incentive for inventors, manufacturers and users. The better you live with less energy, the more freedom you have. It is being rewarded for being a responsible citizen. The best thing about Freedom Machines is the fact that you don't have to have one. You can ride a horse. Craig

sean wenger
7/4/2011 8:58:50 PM

@ Frank Lee – Maybe, the one I was thinking of changes the back ground color from Blue to Green when the car is driven economically. Apparently it also has a game where you earn leaves on a tree (or something like that). I don’t see why someone would inhibit the performance of any vehicle. That would go into the realm of punishment and reward. Like I was saying, an intangible feed back. If I wanted the speed to change for me and reward me for riding economically, I would just ride a horse. Due to fatigue the top speed would drop. But this is about machines and fuel/energy concerns. I wonder if anyone has put solar concentrators onto a bioreactor to maximize the algae growth. What would happen if small amounts of sugar were added to the waste water?

frank lee
7/3/2011 11:59:35 PM

Is that the one where with higher economy you are allowed higher speed? I am anything but a safety ninny, but if there is anything more unsafe than high speeds, it is vehicles with greatly differing speeds on the same road. I cannot support such a concept.

craig vetter
6/27/2011 2:43:11 PM

Making fuel economy cool: What would make consuming less fuel a cool thing to do? I have a suggestion that rewards folks for being responsible citizens with freedom. Freedom that irresponsible citizens do not have. May I suggest that you go to:

sean wenger
6/18/2011 10:27:14 PM

Good observations Frank, refinement of vehicle control is an acquired skill set. I believe you point directly to the "why" behind the saying: "A fool and his money soon part." Rather then use drive by wire (treating the symptom) my vote would be some sort of intangible feedback mechanism that allows development of good driving. There is a hybrid (Honda I think) that already has something like this. But why go that way? A little theory from me, a big step off topic for blog kind. But I’ll do my best to tie it back in at the end. Theory of the Raven, is an observation that smaller birds (Sparrows) that can’t easily hurt or kill each other, fight a lot. Birds that have a long pointy beak (Raven) that can maim or kill another bird (even of same species) in one strike, rarely ever fight. Technology gave the beak of the Raven to humans with Sparrow like tendencies. We share the technology and the road with each other. Refinement of ones skills and tendencies is an unnatural thing. The natural thing is why there is road rage. Vehicle power, like all power, is like a magnifying glass of who we are. Even the choice of vehicle is blatantly apparent. Fact, this why people can relate to one another base on the vehicle that they drive (or ride). Nice to meet you all here. CM

frank lee
6/18/2011 2:54:27 PM

I don't normally drive like that! Perhaps "real" driving conditions are somewhat insane? If/when energy becomes dear enough, the "Stoplight Gran Prix" and "Cannonball Run" high-speed cruising will become obsolete because they ARE far more energy intensive. Two more things: people are always speeding, bobbing, and weaving down the roads as if they are late for a fire; I challenge people to do the math- it's easy- and compare travel times for their routes at different speeds. I'd wager for the vast majority of trips the difference between going legal or even sub-legal speed vs going 10 over is less than 10 minutes. In that case I say slow down or if that 10 minutes is oh sooooo crucial, leave earlier. Second thing is: I live on a perfectly straight, level, no-stop, no intersection, high-traffic street and I can plainly hear most idiot drivers using VERY erratic gas pedal control- what is up with that? Distracted driving? Never learned proper technique? Don't care? Suffer from foot seizures (like Hardley-Abelson riders all suffer from wrist seizures???)? At any rate, drive-by-wire should be able to buffer those spastic control inputs thus saving boatloads of fuel...

craig vetter
6/8/2011 10:47:41 PM

Frank: At the Vetter Challenges, we do not drive in such a manner that minimizes energy use accelerating and energy loss decelerating. We drive fast. We accelerate fast. We drive as we normally do. We want to know how to consume less energy in REAL driving conditions. We want to know how to live better on less energy. I hope you can come to Mid Ohio and Challenge us. Crimson: Regenerative braking seems suited to city stop and go and is easiest with electric vehicles. I am confident that useful electric 2 wheelers are coming

frank lee
5/21/2011 12:19:12 AM

One could drive in such a manner that minimizes energy use accelerating and energy loss decelerating thus reducing/eliminating the need for equipment to do it. Of course you would have traffic trying to crawl up your tailpipe if you opt out of the "Stoplight Gran Prix". Oh well. I have a '60 VW Kombi and I'm not going to floor it to redline just to satisfy someone who acts like they are late to a fire, because there IS NO PLEASING those people back there... unless I'm on my V-Max. You could be going 80 in a 55 and someone will still have the "need" to pass simply because that is how they "win". :/ As in my energy rant over on the "nukes" blog, even 30 years ago our hp/lb ratios and thus 0-60 times were but a fraction of what they are now- and for what? To get to the next highway clog faster?

sean wenger
4/1/2011 9:48:17 PM

Regenerative breaking. Here is something that seems so intuitive that almost every EV has it. And almost no gas powered vehicles have it. The Irony is that the EV vehicles are showing a loss (despite the pretty graphic showing the energy being stored and reused) from the batteries. A light weight mechanical system could benift all vehicles. We all know that the stop and start of traffic takes a toll on our efficency. That's why vehicles have different city and highway MPG listings. Do we have a system that will store the waste energy from slowing and stopping that will actually be worth the weight, cost, and maintenance? CM

craig vetter
3/1/2011 8:11:45 PM

Somewhere along the way, I have made the decision that I do not want to be totally enclosed. It is a motorcycle thing, I guess. There are some clever designs, like the Eco and MonoTracer that are like two wheeled cars. They are not for me. Thus, I avoid problems like ventilation, fogging, overheating, being blown around in sidewinds, etc. Well said: “Not as easy as one might think” Then again… who has been trying to solve these problems? This is a good time, while there is still gas at the pumps and power in the grid.

sean wenger
2/26/2011 11:26:20 AM

Hey Craig, It turns out the Ohio meet is actually further away from me. I am also looking forward to going to California. Have to get all the official documents, but the processes are underway. I am wondering about ventilation to keep windows from fogging and/or keeping the rider cool. As the design that I am developing is based on Cycling I have to consider the prevention of overheating under exertion in a Semi-encased / encased vehicle. I also feel your pain on the design of some sort of door system that can allow feet down at a stop, and allow a way to exit the vehicle. To keep all this light weight and ease of manufacture is a challenge too. Then there is how the vehicle will handle with 4 bags of groceries. Not as easy as one might think. Crimson

craig vetter
1/31/2011 1:30:01 PM

Good news, Crimson. You don't have to come to California to challenge me. I am coming to you. Well, coming to the Midwest, anyway. Mid Ohio Raceway, 60 miles north of Columbus, July 22, 2011 You have more time and hopefully less distance to travel. Check it out: Come make motorcycle history with us. Craig

sean wenger
1/26/2011 11:08:32 PM

This is the most Awesome news ever, of all time. Ever since I started following Craig’s streamliner project I noticed the references to the Mileage contests of the 80's and I wondered why they did not have them today. Well, this is too cool. Time to source parts and get some serious R&D out of the way. The weather outside is unusually warm for this time of year. That Recumbent Conversion Kit finally arrived so, if I get this project moving in time... (Sarcasm Alert on the text that follows) How on earth am I going to convince anyone to accompany me to California? How do you pack for there? According to Craig I need... a suitcase of mud? (Sarcasm Alert over) and sorry for being so cheeky.. Honestly, I do not know if I can get a working proto type together in time. Also there is debate that the concept might not work as well as I hope. Neither of these two conditions is detrimental to my attendance, only my participation in the contest. Hope to see you there. But if not, let me personally thank you now, for challenging the minds and talents of generations of inventor/problem solvers. Sincerely, Crimson Mavrick P.S. Thank you also to those that posted their answers to the questions in this blog. I feel I did not give proper homage to these contributions. May I one day grow to understand the world from your shoes, yet remain humble enough to share that perspective, as each of you have.

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