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2006 Tour de Sol By the Numbers

Divisional average fuel economy for hybrids in the TdS Monte Carlo rally. Click to enlarge.

The recently-concluded 2006 Tour del Sol attracted a range of stock, modified and original vehicles that participated in the three competitive events: the Monte Carlo-style Rally and High-Mileage Challenge; the Tour de Sol Championship; and the Around-Town Vehicle Competition. (Earlier post.)

As such, it provides a good window into the more immediate possibilities for fuel-efficient and lower-carbon driving.

The Monte Carlo Rally featured 25 competitors in 8 divisions. (For vehicles that participated in both the Drive-In and Efficiency Event, the final mpg is weighted based on 30% for Drive-in and 70% for 200-mile Efficiency event.)

Four entrants in the Toyota Prius “Classic” (MY 2001-2003) division averaged 55.5 mpg US. Two entrants in the new Prius division (MY 2004-2006) averaged 58 mpg US.

The stock Honda Insight division featured the largest number of entrants—7—and delivered an average 77 mpg US, plus the grand champion for mpg: 89.3 mpg US. Two Civic Hybrids competed in that division, with a average 55 mpg.

One Ford Escape hybrid participated, with an average 37.2 mpg.

One modified Insight competed in the Plug-in Hybrid division, delivering 76.7 mpg. This was Mike Dabrowksi’s Insight, modified as a plug-in (augmented by solar) and using MIMA—Manual Integrated Motor Assist. (Earlier post.)

Two modified Insights competed in the turbo-hybrid division, averaging 76.2 mpg.

The biofuel and alternative fuel division had six entrants, including two biodiesel cars (B20 and B100), one biodiesel truck (B100), two vegetable oil-powered cars and one CNG vehicle (Honda GX). No flex-fuel vehicles competed.

The winning biodiesel car was a 1984 Ford Escort diesel running B20, with 47.8 mpg. Runner-up was a 2000 new Beetle TDI, at 41.5 mpg. The winning veggie oil car was a 1973 Porsche 914, with 53.3 mpg. Runner-up was a 1976 Austin Mini Clubman, at 48.9 mpg. The truck, a 2005 F250, hit 15.9 mpg, and the Honda GX came in at 33.5 mpge.

The Tour de Sol Championship challenged students, independent teams, and auto manufacturers to build one-of-a-kind or production vehicles that aim to reduce gasoline use and work toward zero climate change emissions.

There were three competitive categories in the TdSC: Alternative Fuel and Hybrids (6 entrants); Battery Electric Vehicles (3 entrants); and solar-assisted electric vehicles (4 entrants). Contestants were judged by a number of metrics including technology, hill climb, acceleration, autocross, greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency and range.

Winner in the Alt-fuel and Hybrids category was the West Philadelphia High School team with a purpose-built B100-fueled sports car that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds and achieves fuel economy of 55 mpg with 58 grams of GHG per mile. Three of the vehicles used B100, one used vegetable oil, one was a purpose-built biomethane-electric hybrid (NiMH) and one was a gasoline-electric hybrid (lead-acid).

The Battery Electric Vehicle category had four entrants (three student, one independent), all using converted vehicles: a 1986 Ford Escort, a 1999 Lomax, a 1987 VW Vanagon and a 2005 Toyota Echo. First place in the student division went to Burlington Country Electechs, with the 1986 Ford Escort powered by a combination of lead-acid and lithium-ion batteries, with a range of 34 miles (not its best metric). The Toyota Echo, the eVermont entry as the independent, used ZEBRA nickel-sodium batteries and had a range of 70 miles.

Four entrants competed in the solar-assisted vehicle category, one in the two+ person division, and three in the single-person vehicle division. The winner in the latter was the West Irondequoil Solar Car Team, with a lead-acid, solar-assisted platform that delivered a range of 12 miles. St. Mark’s EV Club, the entrant in the 2+ division, used a converted 1994 Ford Ranger (solar plus lead acid batteries) and turned in a range of 64 miles.

The Around-Town Vehicle Competition challenged students and others to build electric bikes and neighborhood vehicles as well as off-road vehicles.

Competition was held in three categories: electric bicycles and tricycles; neighborhood electric vehicles; and track/non-road electric vehicles.

Eight entrants competed in the electric bike and trike division. Winner in the Production division was Optibike with its Model 400 e-Bike (pedal plus NiMH and Li-ion batteries). EV Tech took first in the independent division with a modified Wavecrest bike (pedal + lithium polymer); first in the student division was the NTID Ebike Club at RIT with a converted pedal + lithium-ion bike.

All three entrants in the NEV category used GEM vehicles, although the first place winner in the student division (Project e-3) modified the GEM with solar assist.

Although three teams entered the non-road category, two scratched, leaving the NFA Solar Racing team as the winner with a solar-assisted EV.


Tony chilling

I am sad the EV cars did not have a stronger showing.

shaun mann

same for the VW beetle TDI.

they claim a rated 49 mpg, no?

John W.

Last year, I believe, Hydrogen-boost, a company that modified a saturn with their own system, entered with said Saturn and got somewhere around 100mpg. I wonder why they didn't enter? (I hope I didn't miss it if it did.) That's too bad, because augmenting the engine with even small amounts of oxygen and hydrogen gas makes a big difference in mileage and emissions.

I would try to enter a car like a Honda insight with hydrogen boost and the MIMI hybrid interface combined (plus every other trick in the book). That would put out a good showing.

Todd Hershberger

Remember that everything from the contest is posted as equivalent mpg to gasoline when looking at other EPA ratings. So the biodiesel mpg numbers appear low, but should be fair.


Whomever drove the Beetle had no idea what they were doing, as a Beetle should EASILY beat 50MPG when driven for efficiency.


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