207.5 MPG Developed in Illinois Barn

By John O'Dell April 10, 2011

If the Nissan Leaf EV's rating from the Environmental Protection Agency of 99 miles per gallon-equivalent impresses you, the Illuminati Seven EV's recent run though that same EPA fuel efficiency test for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles ought to flabbergast: 207.5 mpg-equivalent. That's more than twice the fuel economy of the Leaf, - in a car that was hand-built at night and on weekends in an Illinois barn by a handful of self-funded gearheads determined to show that efficiency and utility could coexist in the same vehicle.

Illinois Barn crew.jpgTrue, the 3,155-pound, 4-seat car's ugly as sin, and to sculpt it into something most consumers would consider undoubtedly would rob it of some of the aerodynamic magic that made its feat possible, but looks aside, the "Seven" from Illuminati Motor Works is one heck of a fuel efficiency machine.

The Seven was developed by Kevin Smith and his crew as an entry in the recently completed Progressive Insurance automotive X-Prize competition, aimed at showcasing passenger vehicles that could attain at least 100 miles per gallon – or the equivalent if they didn't use gasoline as their fuel. It made it to the semi-finals in the three-year program, only to be eliminated when a burned clutch kept it from meeting the minimum 0-60 mpg acceleration time of 15 seconds.

But Smith and crew didn't stop just because they didn't make the cut. Late last month, after spending months repairing and fine-tuning the car, they took it to Chrysler's test track in Michigan where it was run through the official EPA fuel economy test for electric-drive vehicles. It was there that the all-electric Seven turned in its 207.5 mpg-e performance, more than double the 102.5 mpg that won the X-Prize mainstream vehicle category's $5 million purse for Virginia-based Edison 2's smaller and much lighter entry – which uses a motorcycle engine burning E85, a blend of 85  percent corn ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

Smith has said that while winning the $5 million prize would have been wonderful, his team never really felt as though it had lost. Illuminati, he said, proved itself a winner "by proving what was possible."

In a recent interview with AutoObserver.com, Smith said that the Seven isn't likely to go into production because the Illuminati team doesn’t have the funding or the expertise to bring a marketable version to fruition. He also joked – at least we think he was joking – that he thought that a mainstream manufacturer like Ford or GM that hired his team would soon be able to bring a 100 mpg car to market. That hasn't happened – and perhaps it’s for the best. Huge corporations have a way of smothering the kind of initiative that makes the Illuminati team's story worth telling.

Maybe, though, a smart automaker will investigate some of the technologies Illuminati has developed that helped give the Seven such impressive range and power. Top speed is at least 130 mph, maximum range is about 200 miles per charge and 0-60 mph acceleration is 9 seconds according to the team's testing results.

Meantime, the Seven – certified roadworthy and licensed for highway use by the state of Illinois – still is being fine tuned and is regularly driven around the state by Smith and other crew members. And Smith doesn't plan to close shop. He ends the most recent entry on the Illuminati blog with the promise that the story "isn't finished yet."

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