The Automotive X Prize has hired an industry veteran to manage team relations with competitors vying for the $10 million prize. Julie Zona will work to recruit new teams to the competition as well as coaching existing teams. Zona's background includes stints at Mayco Plastics, Chrysler and Saleen with experience in manufacturing, product planning and development. Using those skills, Zona will mentor competitors and help refine the rules for the competition. One of the keys that makes the X Prize different from previous mileage competitions is the viability component. Rather than just encourage teams to build the most efficient car, the competitors also have to demonstrate that the vehicles can be built and sold profitably in high volume. The press release is after the jump.
[Source: Automotive X Prize]

PRESS RELEASE:

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Hires Auto Industry Veteran Julie Zona

Auto Industry Veteran and Seasoned Product Developer to Focus on Recruiting Auto Manufacturers and Start Up Firms to Enter Multimillion Dollar Competition for Super Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

PLAYA VISTA, CA--(Marketwire - October 27, 2008) - The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a multimillion dollar competition to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles, today announced the hire of Julie Zona as Director of Team Relations.

In this role, Zona will work to continue attracting and recruiting a wide and qualified variety of competitors to the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE competition. Serving as a coach and advocate to new competitors as well as those that have already signed letters of intent to compete, her focus will be on building relationships and lines of communication. Zona will be based in Detroit.

"Julie brings vast automotive industry knowledge to our team and to those participating in our competition," said Don Foley, Executive Director of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. "Her experience with automotive product development, from formulating a concept through the launch of the vehicle, and her understanding of efficient vehicle technology, and alternative fuels uniquely positions her to engage potential and current competitors on the complex development challenges that this competition presents."

As a member of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE team, Zona will also play a vital role in the continued development of competition rules and guidelines and will assist with the establishment of the competition's judging process and with the selection of judges.

"The most exciting aspect of this role and the competition is the opportunity to make a profound impact on the future of everyday transportation," said Zona. "The vehicles in this competition are pushing us all in a better direction through their innovative thinking and I'm looking forward to working with each of them."

Zona spent the early portion of her career as an environmental coordinator with Mayco Plastics before moving on to Chrysler, where she held a variety of positions spanning thirteen years including roles in manufacturing, vehicle development, product planning and brand management. Most recently she worked at Saleen Inc., planning and executing all Saleen and Racecraft programs from concept to launch.

Additional recent hires by the X PRIZE Foundation include Vanessa Hambidge, formerly of MTV and CBS Sports, who will head up all corporate and media sponsor development for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE and Mark German, formerly of Scholastic, who will lead the Department of Energy-sponsored Progressive Automotive X PRIZE Education Program.

ABOUT THE PROGRESSIVE AUTOMOTIVE X PRIZE

The goal of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices. Ten million dollars in prizes will be awarded to the teams that win a stage race for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPGe. The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE will place a major focus on efficiency, safety, affordability, and the environment. It is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars. This progress is needed because today's oil consumption is unsustainable and because automotive emissions significantly contribute to global warming and climate change.

ABOUT PROGRESSIVE

Progressive, founded in 1937, is one of the country's largest auto insurance groups and a leading insurer of motorcycles, recreation vehicles, boats, and commercial vehicles. The Company offers competitive rates and innovative products and services that meet drivers' needs throughout their lifetimes as well as 24/7 online and in-person customer and claims service.

One of Progressive's Core Values is Excellence. To the Company's more than 27,000 people, it simply means seeking constant improvement. Over time, this has meant introducing revolutionary ideas that make car insurance easier to shop for, buy and use. It's this same innovative spirit that's behind the Company's sponsorship of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE will inspire innovation that will produce more fuel efficient vehicle choices, helping to make a difference in people's lives.

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