CC Capsule: Kinetic Vehicles Max – 100 MPG Locost-Based Diesel Roadster

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When I spotted this at the Lane County Events Center parking lot the other day, I knew it was something a bit out of the ordinary, especially with the Mother Earth logo and “Kinetic Vehicles” on its side. I thought it might be home-built EV, as that’s not an uncommon thing hereabouts. But the exhaust pipe sticking put the side put that idea to rest. A little Googling quickly brought the answer: this is the expression of one man’s quest to build a 100mpg roadster.

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The whole saga of Jack McCornack’s project and its many appearances at events has been chronicled at his website, and in a blog at Mother Earth News. But rather than sift through some six years or more of the construction of a Locost roadster with custom aero body parts and an 1100cc Kubota industrial diesel engine (32 hp), here’s the short story. Well, that is the short story.

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Call me a bit jaded, but after decades of enduring gushing stories (and press coverage) about all sorts of homebuilt EVs and things that didn’t really amount to much more than glorified golf carts for the most part, I’m not exactly bowled over by a spartan and crude roadster that gets 100 mpg from a tiny diesel engine. There, I said it. It’s just that…well, cars like the Tesla S, Volt, Prius and Leaf and such have made things like this….a quaint memory of another era. Good for him for building his dream; but if he thinks he’s he’s really adding something to the leading edge of technology or saving the planet, let’s just say that a lot of other ultra-efficient vehicles have been built over the last 50 years or so, many of them more sophisticated or ambitious.

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Hey, if  a guy wants to build a roadster with a gen-set diesel to get some really impressive mileage, why not? It’s just that this vehicle is really a quest for publicity,as his website makes all-too obvious. And I’m all-too obviously burned out on that, having covered untold EV and ultra-efficient start-ups during the boom years of 2006-2008, back at TTAC.  Many feel called; few have what it takes...

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Now if it had a VW TDI, and could both go 100mph and get 100mpg, I might be a bit more impressed.