It is never enough to stress the three pillars for energy efficiency: mass, aerodynamics, and powertrain. That works for any sort of vehicle, including EVs. When we talk about an efficient one, people imagine reaching 140 MPGe or more. What if we told you there’s an EV that achieves 40,332.7 MPGe? This vehicle is made in Sweden and runs on rails.
If you think Polestar or Volvo achieved a breakthrough, forget about that. We are also not using a metaphor for a brilliant dynamic behavior: the Eximus IV literally runs on rails. It is the car Högskolan Dalarna (Dalarna University) built to compete at the 2020 Delsbo Electric, an engineering students’ competition to find out which EV is the most energy-efficient one. As the name suggests, it happens in Delsbo, Sweden.
We have no idea how the competition decided to put these vehicles on rails, but that has huge implications in the amount of energy spent by these machines. There’s very little friction and low rolling resistance when rails are involved. On the other hand, traction can become an issue.
Delsbo Electric defies the students to travel a distance of 3.36 km (2,09 miles) from Delsbo up to Fredriksfors. We have searched for a video that shows the entire run, but there is none available. For the fragments we have seen, the terrain seems to be pretty even, without slopes or declines for the vehicles to beat, as the video below demonstrates.
It also shows how light the Eximus IV is. It is basically a platform with a bubble to protect its six passengers (three of them children) from the weather and lower the aerodynamic drag. The Eximus IV also moves at very low speed, which also makes any air resistance not very relevant.
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The Högskolan Dalarna won the competition with an energy consumption of 0.65 Wh/km per person. When the competition ended, they made another run in both directions to try to establish the world record and got 0.517 Wh/km per person, which translates to 40,332,7 MPGe.
According to Delsbo Electric's CTO, professor Henrik Rödjegård, the Eximus IV could theoretically “transport a person nearly halfway around the world” using the equivalent to the energy a liter of gas (0.26 gallon) contains.
That may not have practical implications. No one will drive an EV on rails. Neither will any person accept to travel in a platform with a plastic bubble if they have another choice. Regardless, it is amazing to see what these students can achieve. May they end up helping car manufacturers make more efficient electric cars based on what they have learned with Delsbo Electric.