After a brutal 30-month competition that initially pitted 136 car development teams against each other, the X Prize Foundation today split the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize to three teams who developed super fuel-efficient vehicles capable of achieving 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent (MPGe).
While the competition may be over, the real fun begins now. That's because one of the driving principles behind the X Prize is not only to win the competition but to be able to take those winning designs and turn them into real products. Under a US Department of Energy-funded technical assistance program, qualified Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competitors will get funding for access to key automotive expertise and test facilities. So you could see one of these cars on a street near you in a couple years.
Specifically the prizes broke down like this, from the X Prize Foundation:
$5 million: Edison2 "Very Light Car #98"
Economy: 102.5 MPGe on E85 ethanol
Boasting the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, this vehicle demonstrated over 100 MPGe on the test track, and verified in the lab, under stringent testing conditions using a highly innovative small displacement engine. Its low weight of just 830 pounds is a tribute to its use of light weight materials, reduced engine displacement and a host of other weight-saving innovations.
$2.5 Million: Li-ion Motors Corp "Wave II"
Economy: 187 MPGe on electric battery
This side-by-side two-seat battery electric car was built on a lightweight aluminum chassis and weighs in at only 2,176 pounds, despite the weight of its lithium ion batteries. The Wave II demonstrated outstanding low mechanical and aerodynamic drag that resulted in 187 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory efficiency testing, a 14.7s zero-to-60 mph acceleration time, and over 100 miles range over a real-world driving cycle.
$2.5 Million: X-Tracer Team Switzerland "E-Tracer #79"
Economy: 205.3 MPGe on electric battery
This tandem two-seat vehicle combines the best of motorcycles and automobiles. This clever design has two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. At 1436 pounds, the E-Tracer is able to deliver over 100 miles in range, led the competition with over 200 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory fuel efficiency and achieved a zero-to- 60 mph acceleration time of just 6.6 seconds.
From the X Prize competition's Web site some of the chief goals of the program were:
- § Safety, Emissions: Vehicles must be designed so that a production vehicle would likely be able to meet US safety standards and US emissions standards
- § Manufacturability, Cost: Vehicles must be capable of being manufactured in quantities of 10,000 per year, with vehicle production costs within levels consistent with historical examples of comparable vehicles
- § Features: Vehicles must be desirable, addressing the most important features and factors consumers consider when purchasing an automobile
- § Business Plan: There must be a credible plan to manufacture, sell, and service 10,000 vehicles (or conversions) per year by 2014. The plan must show that the national fuel infrastructure will support the vehicles, especially if any non-standard fuels or fueling-methods are to be used.
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