Why can't the world's car companies make a vehicle that gets 100 mpg? Automotive technology keeps improving and people keep asking the question, but--as with fusion reactors and comprehensible phone bills--the reality always seems to be just a few years away. Sure, student engineers have achieved 2000 mpg in design contests, but those vehicles have been exercises in automotive minimalism, not practical everyday cars.
Steve Lapp, a professor from Ontario, says the moment has nearly arrived. "I've actually gotten over 100 mpg on some trips in my 2001 Toyota Prius," he says. The secret? He mounted solar panels on the car's roof to keep the batteries charged when the sun is shining. If Lapp, a backyard big thinker, can get triple-digit mileage occasionally, why can't the world's carmakers hit the mark on every drive?