THERE IS an Australian connection to the amazing Linc Volt, a 1959 2.5 ton Ford Lincoln Continental Mk IV convertible that has been accepted as an entrant to the USD$10 million 'Automotive X Prize' competition - open only to vehicles capable of achieving 100 miles per gallon (or 42.5 kilometres per litre).
How hard can it be?
At 19.5 feet long, the Lincoln Continental Mk IV was the longest car of its era, and weighed a little less than the island of Tonga. BUT... and this is the important bit... as the Linc Volt, it is now running a new type of hybrid system that is in the final stages of tuning and development.
According to the Linc Volt website, testing is scheduled for March and April this year.
Not daunted by the challenge, the Linc Volt team has set itself the task of creating a "clean automobile propulsion technology... that delivers performance with zero emissions and eliminates roadside re-fueling entirely".
There is to be a qualifying race for the Automotive X Prize late in 2009, with the final race from California to Washington D.C. to take place in 2010.
Pre-grunge Canadian rocker, Neil Young, is also involved in the project. His production company, Shakey Pictures, has been recording the development of the project over the past six months and is to release a film "Linc Volt - Repowering the American Dream" documenting the car's progress.
Commenting on his involvement, the great man said (somewhat esoterically), "Every step of the way, we have not been alone. Things fall into place like there was a plan. We have now come to see innovation we had never anticipated in all of our dreams, and we are still moving forward."
So where's the Aussie connection? German-born Adelaide Physicist and Researcher, Uli Kruger (pictured right), is contributing to the technical development of the Linc Volt. An expert in thermodynamics, Uli is a key part of the project and development team.
"The main ingredient for working on this project is refusing to believe that some things are impossible," Uli said.
This has gotta be something we should follow. To put you in the picture, following is the draft goal and competition guidelines from the 'Automotive X Prize' website. Check it out at http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/prize-details/draft-guidelines
GOAL OF THE PROGRESSIVE AUTOMOTIVE X PRIZE
To inspire a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles that help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change.
APPROACH TO DEVELOPING THE COMPETITION GUIDELINES
- The draft competition guidelines are shaped by our philosophy that the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE must:
- Achieve our main goal (above)
- Be simple to understand and easy to communicate
- Benefit the world - this is a global challenge
- Result in real cars available for purchase, not concept cars
- Remain independent, fair, non-partisan, and technology-neutral
- Provide clear technical boundaries (i.e., for fuel-efficiency, emissions, safety, manufacturability, performance, capacity, etc.)
- Offer a "level playing field" that attracts both existing automobile manufacturers and newcomers
- Attract a balanced array of private investment, donors, sponsors, and partners to help competitors succeed (e.g., manufacturing assistance, testing resources, etc.)
- Make heroes out of the competitors and winner(s) through unprecedented exposure, media coverage and a significant cash award
- Educate the public on key issues