Click on the Loremo for a high-res gallery
After the success of the original Ansari X-Prize, the X-Prize Foundation started creating new X-prizes in areas like medicine and cars. The Automotive X-Prize was announced in 2006 and in April of this year, the organizers released the first draft of the rules at the New York Auto Show. While numerous high-mileage car competitions have been held for decades, the X-Prize is distinctly different. Many previous competitions have yielded tiny little stream-liners running on bicycle wheels with tiny engines. While these vehicles have yielded efficiency of hundreds or thousands of miles per gallon they weren't very useful.
The goal of the X-Prize is to produce vehicles that got the equivalent of at least 100 mpg of gasoline and could be sold in volumes of at least 10,000 a year profitably. Two classes were defined, a mainstream one for vehicles with a minimum of four wheels and four seats and a second alternative class for vehicles with at least two seats. In August an initial list of thirty-one entries was announced by the foundation. The first batch of entries run the gamut from names that will be familiar to readers of this site, such as Tesla and Phoenix to home-builts like Maine Automotive X. We decided to take a look at some of these teams, and you can see more information and plenty more picture galleries after the jump.
The competition is intended to be technology neutral, with equivalency formulas for calculating the well-to-tank efficiency of each power-train. Standardized models will be used for each type of fuel whether it's electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, or gasoline. The electric vehicle start-ups like Tesla, Phoenix and Zap would seem like obvious entrants and, indeed, they have all signed up. Whether all of the competitors who've signed up actually compete remains to be seen. Since the rules still are not yet finalized, some may determine that they don't actually have a vehicle that qualifies.
Tesla won't be able to compete with the Roadster since it can't meet the 10,000 unit annual production level. Their upcoming WhiteStar sedan, though, will meet that threshold, but depending on the formula for the well-to-tank efficiency, they may or may not meet the 100 mpge threshold. The same will likely hold true for other electric vehicle manufacturers. Other teams are looking at a variety of different options like plug-in hybrids and tiny little engines. We've already covered several of the entrants like Velozzi and Loremo and we'll be looking into other teams in depth in the coming months. You can find the list of current entrants here.
Members of the Automotive X-Prize team have also given AutoblogGreen in-depth interviews, one of which ended up in our podcast. Here's a sample of Neal Anderson describing the upcoming races:
"Imagine a Tour de France for vehicles. But we're really going to test these vehicles in ways that consumers understand and show their actual mileage, their actual fuel economy" (Read the rest here).
AutoblogGreen will continue to keep an eye on the companies and automobiles involved in this X-Prize, as things will get more and more exciting as we get closer to the actual contest dates. Until then, let's speculate. Who do you think has got a chance of winning this thing? Who shouldn't bother? The comments are open.