This vehicle, which resembles Lotus Seven, an icon for light, fuel efficient and fun to drive cars, is powered by an axial engine. This engine uses some of the same principles applied to Wankel engines, but do not work like them. Not even close, according to Maxi-Eco. Since the invention has not been registered yet, details still cannot be revealed, but the basic idea behind the engine is that it uses a lot less parts than a regular Otto engine. Therefore, it is lighter and more efficient. “Our project has some similarities to Wankel engines in what relates to energy use, but not in what refers to physical characteristics nor in the way fuel is compressed. I can say it works very much like a regular Otto engine", André Martinho Salgado, from Maxi-Eco, told MotorTips.
Salgado trusts very much its company achievement. “One of the main goals for Progressive Automotive X Prize is to have cars able to reach 100 mpg, or 42 km/l and we will work towards this in the first stage of the engine development. We are currently working with prototypes and we have mathematically proved our engine can reach 60 km/l with ethanol.” The engine works so well, according to Salgado, that they have even given up the idea of turning the powertrain into a hybrid system. "We have cancelled the project for the secundary electric engine in December. We will go to the competition only with our combustion axial engine, which is much more efficient and does not use batteries, which are not environmentally friendly."
Maxi-Eco will take part in all categories, including a new one, that has just been created. "In the main category, we have to take to the USA a car able to carry five people, with more than 60 mandatory equipments, such as air-conditioning, ABS etc. We will use a series production vehicle equipped with our engine. The alternative category is not so demanding in what relates to equipments. We can present a vehicle with at leat three wheels and two places. Our prototype will have four wheels and two places. It will not be the Lotus Seven replica, but a different vehicle, produced with some special technologies."
The engine will be able to use ethanol or petrol, or else, it will be a flexible fuel powerplant. "For the competition, we will adjust it to work with E85, but there is the possibility for it to work on 100% of ethanol as well", Salgado said.