T-Rex Tapped for Fuel Efficiency Race

Publish Date: 
Apr 24, 2009

T-Rex manufacturer Campagna Motors has partnered with design firm OptaMotive to compete in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize — a race designed to inspire the development of super fuel-efficient vehicles.

The partnership's objective is to build a commercially viable and appealing vehicle capable of getting the equivalent of 100 miles or more per gallon of gas while maintaining the performance of a racecar. The event boasts a prize purse of over $10 million.

The stock T-Rex (MSRP $49,900) is propelled by a 1400cc Kawasaki engine and six-speed close-ratio gearbox, can achieve zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, climb to a top speed of 130mph and carry lateral acceleration of 1.3 g. OptaMotive's entry will use a T-Rex chassis as the basis on which to create an all-electric drive train in the pursuit of improved efficiency. The converted vehicle, project name "Surge", is to have the equivalent of 100hp, weigh less than 2,000 lbs., and have a 0 to 60mph time of less than 10 seconds.

OptaMotive, based in Ottawa, Canada, and San Jose Calif., is dedicated to studying how new technologies in vehicle design can improve fuel efficiency. The company is led by Mark Demers, a sales and marketing professional who has made a name for himself in combat robot competitions. The 16-person team is further composed of members who have experience in robotics, autonomous control, vehicle design, race engineering, control systems and battery engineering.

The OptaMotive-Campagna team is one of 111 participating teams, which collectively represent 136 vehicle entries and 14 different fuel sources, from 25 U.S. states and 11 countries. Competitors include established automakers, emerging start-ups, universities and inventors. Six of the registered teams remain confidential.

In the coming months, registered teams will undergo design judging based on a detailed data submission package, which will provide information on their vehicle's features, production capability, safety and business plans. Those that pass design judging will move into the performance testing phase and partake in a series of competition events that will begin as early as May 2010. Winners — selected from Mainstream and Alternative classes — will be announced in 2010.

The competition start date, the number of venues, and the geographic distribution of venues will be determined prior to July 2009.

"The T-Rex is the perfect vehicle for our project because of its light weight and compact chassis design," says OptaMotive team leader Mark Demers.

"This is a unique opportunity for the OptaMotive team to evaluate the adaptation potential of the T-Rex to an electric motor and to promote an environmentally sustainable technology," says André Morissette, president of Campagna Motors.

—Submitted by Guido Ebert