At the official kick-off event for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize in Lansing, MI today, the same cars, most of the same people and the same "news" was delivered as we heard and saw back in January at the Detroit Auto Show. Still, with the sun out and the shakedown stage of the event about to kick off at the Michigan International Speedway next week, there was a sense of excitement today that just wasn't present in Cobo Hall four months ago. The main similarity was that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm spoke at both events, and she's energetic no matter what.
The Amp'd Sky (pictured), the Edison2's Very Light Car, the Zap Alias and the Tango two-seater EV were all on hand. Aptera was listed among the teams that would be on hand, but there was no 2e to be found anywhere. Oh, and remember when there were like 120 teams shooting for the top spot? Today, there are but 28 teams left, entering a total of 36 vehicles in the mainstream (15 vehicles) and alternative (21) classes. You can see the breakdown of where these teams are from and what type of energy they are using after the jump.
The one tidbit that caught our ear today was that in the second-to-last stage of the event, the Knockout Qualifying Stage in June, the teams will only need to prove their vehicles can achieve 67 miles per gallon equivalent. During the Finals Stage a month later, they will need to reach 100 mpge, the headline target for the X-Prize. We asked why this low bar was set so close to the end of the competition, and the X-Prize's Senior Director, Eric Cahill, said that it was a reasonable goal everyone agreed to and proves that all the competitors will at least be in the ballpark when it comes time for the final event. We don't know how anyone who just manages to reach the June goal will be able to tweak their way to 30 more mpge in a few short weeks, but maybe that's the kind of intense competition the X-Prize will deliver in the very near future.