>There is a bit of a clash of the titans going on in the green/auto world right now, and the two heavyweights don’t seem to be pulling any punches. In one corner is General Motors, in the other is the people behind the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize.
For those not yet in the know, the Automotive X Prize is modeled after the Ansari X Prize, which awarded $10 million to Burt Rutan and his company, Scaled Composites, for being the first to launch a commercial vehicle into outer space. The Automotive X Prize, sponsored by Progressive Insurance, plans to award a multi-million dollar prize to the first group that can develop a commercially-viable vehicle capable of getting 100 MPG.
General Motors may have picked a fight with the automotive media by claiming that the upcoming Chevrolet Volt will achieve 230 MPG in city driving. This number seems unimaginably high, and for many in the know, it is. GM’s funny math, the X Prize claims, is distorting what “MPG” means to the American consumer and threatans to make the standard irrelevant.
“GM’s claim, and others surely to follow in the race to bring a host of efficiency-boosting technologies to market, will continue to cast doubt on the relevance of the MPG standard by which Americans have long considered vehicle fuel economy… What’s needed is a rigorous, transparent, and fuel neutral standard that the public can trust as cars employing a variety of fuels begin arriving at showrooms. “
And what rigorous, transparent, and fuel neutral standard can the public trust? Why, it’s the Automotive X Prize’s own standard, MPGe! “MPGe,” or Miles Per Gallon energy equivalent, is actually by most accounts a more fair measure than whatever it is that GM used to determine the 230 number.
But that’s not the only issue that the Automotive X Prize people bring up. They, like many people, take issue with the very way GM did the test.
“We congratulate them on this progress. However, it’s important to understand that the Volt’s estimated fuel economy would have been very different had they driven the car 200 miles instead of the little over 51 miles that they did.”
While it should be said that the X Prize may have a vested interest in shooting down the 230 figure (230 MPG blows their 100 MPG goal out of the water, rendering the whole program irrelevant and pointless), they do make a valid point. There’s currently a lot of headscratching going on about GM’s claims, and so far, they’re not doing much to settle them.