Google’s Quest for the 100 MPG Car

Thanks to the philanthropic nature of Google’s two founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, it appears a 100 mpg car may be available for purchase sooner rather than later.

According to a New York Times article, Google.org, the for-profit philanthropic arm of Google, Inc., has plans to develop “an ultra-fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid car engine that runs on ethanol, electricity and gasoline” with the ultimate goal of having the cars achieve 100 mpg.

The article then goes on to state:

“The philanthropy is consulting with hybrid-engine scientists and automakers, and has arranged for the purchase of a small fleet of cars with plans to convert the engines so that their gas mileage exceeds 100 miles per gallon.  The goal of the project is to reduce dependence on oil while alleviating the effects of global warming.”

The concept I find most interesting regarding the production of these vehicles is it doesn’t sound like these cars are going to be built from scratch, rather they are existing vehicles that are going to be augmented in order to achieve the desired gas mileage.

Because I’m a skeptic at heart, this leads me to ask the following question: If all they’re doing is messing around with existing vehicles, why haven’t car  manufacturers already mass produced vehicles that get 100 mpg?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that Google is willing to put forth a large amount of its own money in order to try and develop cars that get triple digit gas mileage, but to me it seems like this is either a pipe dream or car manufacturers have been holding out on us for a long time.

Comments

  1. but to me it seems like this is either a pipe dream or car manufacturers have been holding out on us for a long time.

    well Duh fool they have allways held out on the people they buy up all ideas that can benifit them and bleed what they have allready for as much as posible

  2. The capability to produce a 100MPG car does currently exist and the auto manufactures don’t hide that fact. The reason they do not produce them is because it is currently cost prohibitive. A 100MPG car would sell for somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000.

    Googles purpose is not to show that it is possible, their purpose is to make it affordable.

    Now my though is, I had a car that averaged 56 MPG back in 1992 and it retailed for $6,000, it was called a Geo Metro, they stopped selling them due to lack of sales, so even if Google does come up with a 100MPG car and makes it affordable is anyone really going to buy it?

    If they began selling the Metro again I would go out and buy one tomorrow, obviously I’m in the minority though.

  3. I baught a car in Germany in 1983 New call Nissan Micra it was a standard 4 speed which got over 50 miles per gallion only problem it did not meet us standards. Nissan still make the car in but you only get it outside of US. I Wonder why. The car was a compat roomie. I was able to put in the three door car a 27 inch crt TV in the box in the back. I which I could have baught it back to us. I paid $3200.00 and solded it three years later for $2900.00. I know our can make better cars but the greed set in so deep until they would rob customer with an inferior car.
    As an American know we can do it why so greedy.

  4. Suppose you still had that Metro or Civic or Escort or Tercel or Omni or any other smallish car and could convert it yourself to get 100 mpg? And for less than $5,000? And it ain’t hybrid electric, like the Google boys are doing. It wouldn’t be easy but it can be done by anyone with average mechanical skill and a reasonably equipped shop. I know because I’ve done it. In about a year I can show anyone how to do it through plans that I intend to make available. You’ll hear about it.

  5. I just watched ‘who killed the electric car?’. I was expecting a wild conspiracy story, but it all made sense (well, like the best conspiracy stories do). But I never realized most of the major car companies were selling (leasing) these cars at one time, and they ALL took them off the market and CRUSHED them. It was a very interesting story. Why would they do this to something that worked and had the infrastructure set up? Reagan scrapped every initiative Carter set in place to make us independent, and Bush took care of any remainder. Hydrogen fuel is at least 20 years away, and big money (ours) is being spent on it, for something that will surely be superceded within 20 years.
    My 1959 TR3 got over 35mpg. And gas was $.35 a gallon then (1965). Twin turbo diesels get excellent mileage, cleanly, using today’s technology. Where are they? Where is our Manhattan Project to wean us from oil? Guess someone has other priorities.
    The only thing that kept me from the conspiracy camp was the Japanese. What did they have to gain by keeping high mileage cars off the market? But something ain’t right here. The current hybrids are a joke, and the advances seem to come from the small shops that are making their own hybrids. 90% of us go less than 60 miles a day on our commutes. We can rent a car if we need to go 300.
    (and now that we are once again thinking of small is better, government incentives have flooded the roads with massive suvs – which are only safer if you hit something smaller, like the cars we need to be driving right now.

  6. The auto makers have always been able to produce high-mileage cars. There are several reasons we are told that they aren’t available in the U.S. but the number one reason is: No one will buy them.
    But here’s the real answer: Not ENOUGH people will buy them. There is a larger profit built into the SUVs, etc. And, since they are truck-based, the gov. requirements for safety, emissions, etc. are not as strict as for cars. Ergo, cheaper to build…but can be sold for more since they are perceived as being of a higher quality than the enconomic models.
    It’s more a matter of THEIR bottom line, THEIR economics than ours.

  7. Okay, let’s look closer at this thing of Gooble investing in converting existing cars.

    A. They are not going to be using cars already on the road, but will buy new cars from the factory.

    B. Even though they will get them at a discount, how much of that will be passed along through the car once converted? 10%? 50%? All of it? Certainly not the last and probably not enough to offset the cost of conversion.

    C. How much will this conversion cost? Remember, we’re talking about a whole new engine (will they buy the new cars without engines or sell the replaced engine back to the manufacturer and pass that savings along to the end consumer?) which will figure in with the cost of the electric conversion.

    D. They’re jumping on this ethanol bandwagon which I am not fully convinced will do anything but raise prices both at the pump and at the supermarket. Oil companies are already saying they will not now be building new refineries as they take a wait-and-see attitude on ethanol. Meanwhile, making ethanol from corn is about the worst way to go. It takes corn out of the food chain, thereby raising prices across the board and the making of it costs more than the making of gasoline…not to mention how much energy it takes to make the stuff: nearly as much energy that it has to give. Finally, ethanol does little to clean up the air; it might, in fact cause more of a problem.

    Every bit of this smacks of Big Money wanting more of our little money. First it was Big Auto in bed with Big Oil. Then Big Government jumped into the party, which was then joined by Big Agribusiness. Now Big Tech wants a piece of the action…all at the expense of us who are barely making it now. Oh, they want to make that car so the “average” Joe or Jane can afford it? Just how much is that? My guess would be no less than a standard SUV, about $35,000. I figger they figger that if all of us “out here” have been able to afford those SUVs, then we can afford to buy their so-called 100 mpg car. Even at 100 mpg, you’ve have to drive it a lot of miles to afford it. And it better not need any major, unwarranted repairs during that time.

    That’s enough for now. I just realized I’ve begun ranting. Moderator, you can delete this, if you wish.

  8. gm is wrong, we want smaller cars says

    Ford and GM are completely off the mark when they say Americans don’t want smaller cars. The problem I have is the danger of being hit. I used to drive a 95 Ford Escort and we still have it, but 2 weeks after buying a 93 Buick I was hit head on. I know if I had been in the Escort I most likely would be dead today. So I continue to drive the Buick but I did put over 243,000 miles on the Escort and got 42 mpg. My Buick is getting up there in miles and I have looked at the older smaller cars because they get better gas mileage than the newer models, even the Prius. But I worry about the way people drive, and I don’t want to be killed if I get a smaller car- and at the same time they are easier to drive, park, most important mpg. But I am not completely dissatified with the Buick as I average 28-38 mpg- and that is a Buick Park Avenue.

  9. Well, it’s all a matter of perspective and proportion, isn’t it? Can a Buick stand against a fully loaded 18-wheeler? I’ve been down that road: a car doesn’t stand a chance against a truck, even a small one.
    To take this further, can an 18-wheeler prevail against a 300,000 ton freight train? Perspective, proportion.
    Theories about what is “safe” and what isn’t abound. People look at the new Smartcar fortwo and wonder if it’s safe. It doesn’t look very safe, yet the makers say it is. Why? Because (they say), the passengers are surrounded with a uniquely engineered safety cage that won’t collapse upon impact from virtually every direction. In fact (they say), the car is designed to use the impacting vehicle’s “crumple zone” and “bounce off” larger, heavier cars.
    I don’t know if this works, but I do know that nearly every car on the road, including those Buicks, etc. have very weak doors that do not stand up well to side impacts. Many manufacturers have addressed that shortcoming in recent years, but the doors still remain among the weakest parts of nearly all cars.
    But is bigger and heavier always better and in every situation? As stated above, Smartcar doesn’t think so. The SUVs also have this nasty little tendency to be top heavy or have a high center of gravity and roll over quite easily. Not exactly the quality someone would seem to want in a family vehicle, but apparantly this has not deterred very many people. If there is a perspective that an SUV is safer, then it will be bought.
    And if sales of SUVs continue to be strong in the face of rising gas prices and increased sales of smaller, more efficient cars, then GM, et al are right: people don’t want smaller cars.
    I think we will just have to wait and see just how much price punishment Americans are willing to take.

  10. gm is wrong, we want smaller cars says

    I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be writing this reply today if I had been driving the Escort. You can downplay my experience all you want, but I don’t see semis driving on residential streets and semi drivers are not crazy drivers except in the mountains of W. Va. The Smartcar isn’t available here in the USA so what does that have to do with the price of rice in China? There should be much stiffer tickets for reckless driving, other than just a $300 fine. My brother in law was killed in a Suburban while he apparently reached for a CD and rolled it. My issue is the way people drive, there needs to be stepped up fines to discourage bad driving, here on our streets I see people passing others on double solid yellow lines all the time, they drive with the pedal to the metal, they drive like there is no tomorrow, and yet there is very little enforcement. That is the issue and these bad drivers make me pay the price, we need to even out the playing field so that people have the freedom to buy small cars if they want to, not worry about what’s going to hit them head on.

  11. I’m glad you weren’t killed too. I have come close to it myself (that encounter I had with a semi, and I was driving a 3/4 ton GMC pickup) and don’t make light of it. I had no intention of coming across as insensitive since I also have friends who have been killed and in the same way that you make later reference to: crazy drivers. And that is what this thread has evolved to: stupid, careless drivers. And since they are out on the roads, there is no doubt that the rest of us need safer cars…and that larger, heavier cars, SUVs, etc. have been proven to be safer.
    The laws of physics have not been repealed in that we can have high-mileage vehicles and the safety of weight. Would that we could…but when you consider the kind of wrecks that NASCAR racers now survive when they once didn’t, the subject of safety and weight takes on a different twist. Those cars are extremely lightweight for their size. Trouble is, they are also extremely expensive, and not just because of the high performance engines, tires, etc. The bodies and safety gear are just as high performance. Trouble is, and to add another twist, should we all be able to afford cars that are as safe as those, we would also be seeing even more crazy driving. It’s a no win situation without tighter enforcement of the laws and stricter punishments to get those kinds of people off the roads and keep them off.

  12. Hey, Google founders, you have my support on this project. The sad part, expect big oil to be threatening. The happy part, all the current gasoline vehicles (even the ones from the early days (( 1910 – )) can be adapted to the new lower emission higher mileage output with current lubrication technology and adaptive tech available.

    Simple research notes: See ER, X1R, and a certain types of air generators (old tech & ideas) that still have not been applied to the already existing automotive engineering of today to both dramatically increase and enhance fuel economy. See Ozone generation for automobiles

    * If I am to work on this project to prove that it works, capital will definitely be needed. Trust me, it does work.
    I would like to know why the auto makers are still locking all the computer controls away from the car owners though, I for one, know how to enhance my vehicle’s performance better than most and have to figure out hardware and software adaptive measures to regain control over my own vehicle. This isn’t a form of democracy or consumer rights!

    Auto makers should make available for the price of the vehicle the ability for the car purchaser to change the automobile’s onboard computer more easily. Wonder why the change from carberator to fuel injection??

    I welcome a response from Google about these topics and more!
    One favor if you don’t pursue contacting me, please, when the car has been tested and readied for marketing, setup a few dealers across the country where we smaller people may be to purchase one too…

    Thank you!

  13. If every body could reduce speed by just 10% planes,cars trucks, better exhaust systems for all existing cars and air filters for the existing industrial fumes, to talk of a few can Google give my Organization the support by means of existing info tech that they have in the palm of their hands it is said if the demand of oil drops by 5% oil prices would plummet why do we continue to deceive our selfs the old machineries,heavy duty vehicles refrigerators,air conditioners, electric irons,that end up in the third world countries are the root cause have we forgotten how helpful the exhaust system was .

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