It may not look like much of a car, but the TUfast eLi14, created by a team from Germany’s Technical University of Munich, established a new world record for efficiency by getting the equivalent of 26,135 miles per gallon. Guiness Book of World Records officially awarded the title of Most Efficient Automobile to the university’s TUfast Eco Team on July 16.
The vehicle isn’t exactly designed for daily commuting. The tiny three wheeler requires the driver to lie down in the car in order to make it as aerodynamic as possible. It also has no touchscreen, air conditioning, or other creature comforts.
The TUfast eLi14 was originally designed and built to compete in the Shell Eco Marathon two years ago. After the event, the students continued to tweak and refine the car to squeeze even more efficiency out of it. Modifications included upgrading the motor, control systems, and wheels.
The car rides on three wheels instead of four to lower rolling resistance. From the side, it looks like a low slung bullet of a car. While its design is extreme, the lessons learned from building it may find applications in road cars some day in the future.
The prototype is 200 times more efficient than any other vehicle in the world. In theory, it could travel 6,808 miles on a single liter of premium unleaded gasoline. The official record was established on Audi’s test track earlier this year. The car finally achieved an energy use of 1,232 km/kWh, which converts to the equivalent of 26,135 MPG. A Toyota Prius PHEV, by comparison, gets a mere 120 MPGe.
The experimental car has set the bar high for any group that wants to challenge the new record. But others will try and learn new lessons in how to make future cars more efficient by doing so. And the students will go on to work for automobile companies around the world, bringing their knowledge of how to make super-efficient automobiles with them to help build the cars of the future.
Below is a video from several years ago when the predecessor of this car was first introduced to the world.