NORTH BETHESDA, Md. – Rami Bedewi’s Monday morning commute will be longer than normal, and he’s looking forward to it.
The Georgetown Preparatory School senior will drive a hybrid car he designed and built over the past 18 months from New York City to Washington, D.C. on a single gallon of gasoline.
Bedewi built a three-wheeled hybrid electric vehicle. The electric motor of the car powers the wheels, and the gasoline engine serves as a generator to charge the batteries.
“The car fits one person. It’s a little bit tight when you drive,” says Bedewi, who grew up in Northern Virginia but now lives in Maryland.
Bedewi was supposed to attempt the 240-mile One Gallon Challenge in January, but he was delayed because Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration wouldn’t provide a title and registration.
Eventually, he tried Virginia.
“I explained how it meets all the safety standards. I had a guy come out to Ashburn (where the vehicle is stored) to take a final look and he granted me the title,” Bedewi said.
Bedewi’s vehicle doesn’t have a radio or music player, but he “really won’t have time for distractions,” as he communicates with his team.
“I’m going to go strictly on backroads — hopefully no roads that go over 45 miles per hour — as I’ll be maintaining about 35 the entire drive,” Bedewi says.
His research determined 35 mph speeds are best suited for the size of the car’s engine.
When he departs 6 a.m. Monday from Liberty Park, in Jersey City, Bedewi’s team goal will be to minimize the number of times he has to completely stop.
“They’ll be four or five car lengths ahead of me, they’ll say ‘Okay, you have a red light coming up — start slowing down now.’ Hopefully, by the time I get to the light it’ll be green so I don’t have to come to a complete stop,” Bedewi says.
His goal is to arrive at the Georgetown Prep campus by 3 p.m.
He’s considered the possibility he’ll run out of gas.
“I’m bringing an extra gallon with me, so worse comes to worse I’ll just call it the One-point-one Gallon Challenge.”