100 MPG Vehicles Will Race to Share $10 Million Prize
NEW YORK, New York, March 23, 2008 (ENS) - The Automotive X PRIZE Foundation will award at least $10 million in privately funded prizes to teams that can engineer clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon, or its energy equivalent fuel efficiency, and win a cross-country stage race.

Officially launched Thursday at the New York International Auto Show, the independent and technology-neutral competition is open to teams from around the world that can design, build and bring to market high-efficiency vehicles meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance.

To date, more than 60 teams from nine countries have signed a Letter of Intent to compete for a share of the prize purse and global publicity.

Progressive Insurance, the third largest auto insurance group in the country, has taken title sponsorship of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, AXP, competition and will fund the $10 million prize purse.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy announced plans to award nearly $3.5 million in a grant to the X PRIZE Foundation for the national education and outreach component of the AXP Program.

"The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is a call to action to promote and inspire innovation," said Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. "The environmentally friendly cars created as a result of this competition will affect everyone who drives in ways we can't even imagine today. Let the race begin!"

Mayor Michael Bloomberg with X PRIZE cars at the New York International Auto Show (Photo courtesy X PRIZE Foundation)

Four teams and their vehicles joined representatives of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE at the auto show.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was also on hand in support of the initiative, announcing that New York will be the starting point for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE race next year.

"The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is an excellent example of how the private sector can spur solutions to our most complex challenges," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Development of a super-efficient car would be a major step forward in the fight against global warming - and it would help us reach our goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in New York City by 30 percent by 2030."

Via video teleconference, Energy Department Assistant Secretary Andy Karsner told auto show attendees, "Our support and collaboration with the Automotive X PRIZE aims to not only demonstrate the practical and much-needed use of advanced and energy-efficient vehicle technologies to reduce our dependence on oil, but also inspire our next generation to pursue careers in math, science and education and engineering, so America remains at the forefront of innovation and discovery."

With the Energy Department's nearly $3.5 million grant, the Automotive X PRIZE Education Program will conduct outreach activities and use vehicle demonstrations as a means of attracting students and the public to learn more about advanced vehicle technologies, energy efficiency, climate change, renewable fuels, and the science and math behind energy-efficient vehicle development.

This outreach effort will also include an international automotive engineering contest; public promotional events in the AXP host cities; and the establishment of a website that will provide educational materials and resources for advanced vehicle technologies. The project will be managed by National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The competition will comprise two vehicle classes: Mainstream and Alternative.

Mainstream vehicles will be required to carry four or more passengers, have four or more wheels, and allow for a 200 mile range.

Alternative-class vehicles will be required to carry two or more passengers, have no constraints on the number of wheels, and allow for a 100 mile range.

The competition will culminate with two long-distance stage races in 2009-2010 - a Qualifying Race and the Grand Prize Final Race. Race courses will reflect typical consumer driving patterns during numerous stages, in varied terrain, communities, and weather conditions.

To win, vehicles must complete both races with the lowest overall time averaged over all scoring stages while still meeting the requirements for 100 miles per gallon equivalent fuel economy and low emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. The $10 million prize purse will be split 3:1 between the winners of the Mainstream and Alternative classes.

The X PRIZE Foundation, best known for the successful $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private suborbital spaceflight, is an educational nonprofit whose mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity by holding $10 million dollar, or larger, competitions to solve some of the world's greatest challenges.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.