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Governor Granholm and X-Prize CEO Peter Diamandis in the Amp'd Sky – Click above for high-res image gallery

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.



Photos by Sebastian Blanco / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

PRESS RELEASE

Attached is a complete list of Qualified Teams in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, broken down by class. (updated 4/23/2010)

Total # of Qualified Teams: 28
Total # of Vehicles: 36
Mainstream Class Entries: 15
Alternative Class Entries: 21

Total U.S. States Represented: 14 (19 U.S. teams; 26 U.S. vehicles)
U.S. States Represented: CA, CO, IL, IN, LA, MI, NC, NY, OH, PA, TX, VA, WA, WV
Total Countries Represented: 9 (9 international teams; 10 international vehicles)
Countries Represented :Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, USA
Total Primary Fuel Sources:
Gasoline 12
E85 4
Biodiesel 4
Battery Electric Vehicles 16



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Little Al loving a green-car competition

      By John Marshall, AP Sports Writer

      Al Unser Jr. has lived a pedal-to-the-floor life, toddling around the pits as his famous father raced around the track, winning his sport’s biggest prize twice himself, becoming a teacher to the next generation of open-wheel stars.
      So when he was asked to gear back during the Automotive X-Prize, a competition that’s supposed to be more innovation than acceleration, well, you know what happened.

      “I just wanted to see what it could do,” Unser said.

      Curiosity is what got Unser behind the wheel in the first place, pairing a man used to high-decibel, low-miles-per-gallon speed machines with a Star-Wars-pod-looking prototype electric car not much louder than a dishwasher.

      Turned out to be a perfect match.

      It started two years ago, when a friend told Unser about the Zap Alias, a prototype electric car that could hit freeway speeds and had a range of 100 miles.

      The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was intrigued by a drawing of the car and contacted Zap, forming a relationship between one of the fastest drivers in the world and a company at the forefront of alternative-fuel transportation.

      So when Zap needed someone to drive the Alias in the Automotive X-Prize, a $10 million competition to develop super fuel-efficient cars, Unser didn’t hesitate.

      “I told them I’d love to be a part of it,” he said.

      There is a certain irony to Unser’s pairing with an alternative-fuel vehicle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      hey guys, check out www.100mpgplus.com

      The car is AVION
      This professor that I teach with at Virginia Tech designed and built it from scratch along with his buddy Craig Henderson.
      These guys were in the race till the organizers required them to have commercial insurance worth 4 million.
      A very small innovative team, with a car that gives 120 MPG WITHOUT ANY BATTERIES.
      I wish the system would start recognizing real innovation rather than subscribing to whats hot right now, which in this case is batteries. If I may ask, where are we getting the electricity in the first place.
      It is a huge sham that is going to backfire in the next five years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ Louis

        Most automotive Li-Ion batteries are NOT toxic. They are very environmentally friendly. The CEO of BYD even drank his own battery fluid.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed, I don't know what the specifics of the X-Prize test are, but there are ultra-high mpg drivers that get close to these numbers in standard, slightly tweaked vehicles (or a stock Honda CRX HF)

        This X-Prize is so disappointing. The first X-Prize required a private person build a vehicle to go into SPACE! This requires that get to 100mpg? You should have to get close to 200mpg so that someone can truly innovate.

        And what is 100mpg if you have to build highly toxic, environment destroying batteries?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Absolutely.
        I agree on everything that you said.
        I have actually driven the Avion, when it was in Blacksburg, here at Tech, and it is a fun little car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You know whats really funny is this whole "everything will be fine in the future for Michigan propoganda" however if you notice she is sitting in a Saturn Sky [A discontinued brand] and the other two cars....well will never hit the roads anytime soon if anything.


      • 4 Years Ago
      The Amp'd Sky appears to be a real-world vehicle which could be built on existing production lines - and the Aptera? it seems to be another pie-in-the-sky vehicle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The Amp Sky is a conversion of the Pontiac Sky, which had limited sales and has been discontinued. So, unless Amp could somehow persuade GM to sell them the plans and tooling, they won't go into production.

        I expected the field of contestants to get narrowed down, but I didn't expect such a drastic cut so soon!
        • 4 Years Ago
        No Chris, the Aptera is a completely custom build. They have completely tweaked ever inch of that car to be featherlight and unbelievably aero. I'm not an engineer, but I would imagine they gain an extra 10-20mpg based solely on the specialized chassis.

        The Amp Sky demonstrates that you could take production vehicles (presumably any production vehicle, not like the Sky was a particular light car) and convert them to attain over 100mpg.

        Finally, the Amp Sky is a conversion of the Saturn Sky which was built on the same platform as the Pontiac Solstice.