Automotive XPrize about to be awarded

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Automotive X Prize competitor

The Automotive X Prize vehicles can be in 1-person, 2-person, or 4-person categories. Image: Flickr/Joncampbell

The Progressive Automotive X Prize has long been considered the “holy grail” of vehicle efficiency. This $5 million prize is for creating a vehicle that gets 100 miles per gallon. Trials in Michigan are underway, and it appears that two cars have a very good chance of winning the prize.

The details of the Automotive X Prize

The Automotive X prize is one of the many prizes supported by the X Prize foundation. Sponsored by Progressive auto insurance, the Automotive X prize was announced in 2008. The competition uses guidelines based on EPA estimating procedures. There are multiple categories, but the main X Prize is awarded to a car capable of carrying four people 100 miles on a single gallon of fuel. The cars entered in the Automotive X Prize need only be proof of concept vehicles, not production-ready.

The Automotive X Prize Competition

The 2010 Automotive X Prize competition started in Michigan on April 26. The three classes of vehicles have been put through their paces. Some of the competitions are designed to emulate city driving. Other around-the-track competitions are designed to test highway driving. The target is 110 miles per gallon, though to receive the XPrize a team only has to get 100 mpg. The safety and performance of the vehicles have to also be within safe driving thresholds.

Ingenuity on display at XPrize races

The real-world conditions that the Automotive XPrize competitors have to work in lend themselves to last-minute ingenuity. One of the requirements of the vehicles is that the passenger cabin remain below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The 95-degree temperatures in Michigan made that difficult, so a few teams are using ice and homemade air conditioning units to keep things cool. Hypermiling driving techniques are also on display throughout the competition.

XPrize winners a possibility

There are two vehicles that are still in the running for the Automotive XPrize. Both will be taken out of the public eye and put through a wide variety of safety tests. If both pass, then the $5 million Automotive XPrize will be awarded.

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