Innovation on the track often leads to better performance on the road, and one of the positive influences of supercars today is the impact “green” technology has had on the average driver. Technologies like clutchless manual transmissions and push-button start began as racing concepts and eventually made their way into vehicles for sale at the local dealership. A clutchless manual transmission offers standard transmission fuel economy, yet doesn’t require a workout of the left foot.
Today’s design teams aren’t creating vehicles that might add just a few MPG to the window sticker. These supercar engineers are building vehicles that look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Prototypes and concept supercars today look like a flying machine that George Jetson might drive and fold up into a suitcase.
Some of the supercars in production today are green performance gods of the road, even if some aspects of their performance would seat them as dead last in the quarter-mile. The futuristic Volkswagen XL1, which reaches 0 to 60 in an uninspiring 12.5 seconds, offers a mind blowing 261 MPG. The engineers for the XL1 were so infatuated with weight reduction that they were able to get the car’s weight down to a tidy 795 kg (1752.67 lbs).
There is no doubt that today’s vehicle manufacturers are looking toward supercar achievements, like the Volkswagen XL1, as inspiration for future improvements to fuel economy. This is at least partially due to laws and constantly evolving fuel economy rules. With cars from model year 2025 requiring an average fuel economy of 54.5 MPG, the attention paid to vehicle efficiency is undoubtedly at an all-time high.
The reception of eco-friendly vehicles was once rather tepid from much of the car-buying public, but the arrival of hybrid vehicles in the 24 Hours of Le Mans has showcased incredible acceptance of eco-friendly cars by the world’s racing elite. Likewise, public perception of hybrid vehicles has improved, especially with the introduction of the graceful and fully electric Tesla Model S, which reigns as the fastest sedan in America.
The concept that a vehicle on a race track or a supercar with only a few hundred models on the road could influence eco-friendly technology is extraordinary. Innovations in heightened fuel economy will continue to trickle into the architecture and machinery of street car designs, influencing the driving experience of casual drivers and vehicle enthusiasts alike.
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