EVI Wave2 Progressive Automotive X-Prize contender - Click above for high-res image gallery

For us polar ice cap haters, we generally think of the competitors in this kind of thing as a bunch of ultra-light, tofu-fueled playthings for liberals who care more about the planet than they do about the people who have to drive one of these rolling chicanes. Sometimes, we'll admit to being wrong.

While Sinclairs and Peels, Tatas and Smarts have forever shaped the way some people think of our recurring push towards greener motoring, the aim of this challenge is to bring ultra-efficiency to vehicles you could really use in the real world. Cars that provide room for you and your stuff and your mate. Cars that don't have to worry about keeping out of everyone else's way while merging into traffic or climbing hills. Cars that look more like a family sedan than a landspeed bicycle. Judging by the competitors we saw at SEMA, we'd say they have a little ways to go yet, but most of the vehicles that were on display sure looked fun. If they're frugal too, so much the better.

Unfortunately, for every Team Hydrophi Ford 500 Phi Ride and Global-E G1 in the group, there was still a Tango or Zap Alias, cars that might be great to drive and efficient, but only seem to reinforce the stereotypes. The ones we really liked were the examples that blended the two needs in a tasteful way. Cars like the EVI Wave 2 (above) and the Aptera 2e are a hoot. Competitors like the Amp'd Sky and Smart EVX seem like solid choices, but the cars they're based on might not be practical for everyone either. Same goes for the Carbon Zero roadster and the T-Rex-derived Optamotive Surge. The one that really captured our attention the most though, was the Future Vehicle Technologies eVARO (its the gold car between the Tango and Smart). We covered this squid-like tandom when it was first announced a couple of years ago. Until they come to market, check out our gallery and the press release announcing the 43 finalists for the prize.

Photos copyright ©2009 Frank Filipponio / Weblogs, Inc.


Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Announces Teams Qualified to Compete for $10 Million & Launch National Student Contest

43 teams have been judged qualified to advance in the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a competition to create viable and super fuel-efficient vehicles. Registration also opens for a national student contest to reinvent the automotive dashboard, sponsored by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

New York, NY – October 19, 2009 The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a multimillion dollar competition to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles, today announced the 43 teams- representing 18 states, 10 countries and 6 fuel types, that have passed the competition's Design Judging phase and will move into the most exciting phase of the competition – performance and safety testing – putting them one step closer to their share of the $10 million prize purse.

The announcement was made at Manhattan's Classic Car Club, and featured Dr. Peter Diamandis, X PRIZE CEO and Chairman; Glenn Renwick, President and CEO of Progressive Insurance; Connie Bezanson, Lead Engineer, Program Planning, U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technologies; and Dale Fulton, Senior Vice President for Curriculum Development at Discovery Education; along with a number of the qualified teams and their vehicles and the first high school teams to register for the complementary student contest.

Teams that have passed this most recent phase of judging have proven to the competition's automotive and technical experts that their vehicles will be available in time for formal vehicle challenges next spring, will be production capable, and can plausibly meet or exceed the competition requirements. There are a total of 53 vehicles moving forward in the competition with 28 represented in the Mainstream Class and 25 represented in the Alternative Class.

"The teams and vehicles represented in this group are the most viable in our competition and we believe that together they are positioned to make a huge impact on the automotive marketplace," noted Dr. Diamandis.

"The work that these teams have done is really amazing-congratulations to them all on getting this far," said Progressive's CEO Glenn Renwick. "Over the next year, we'll see significant advancement of these designs, taking us even closer toward the ultimate goal of making super fuel efficient vehicles a viable choice for consumers."

The competition features teams from around the world that can design, build and bring to market 100 MPG or energy equivalent (MPGe) vehicles that people want to buy and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance. Performance testing will begin in spring 2010 and winners will be announced in September 2010. Exact dates and locations will be announced shortly.

A complete list of qualified teams, along with fuel types, photos of their vehicles and team information is now available at www.progressiveautoxprize.org.

Also at the event today, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE formally opened registration for a national high school contest, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy grant. The contest, called DASH+, challenges students to work together using creativity, design, and math and science skills to develop new gauges, instruments and interfaces to create the "Dashboard of the Future" which will support behavior change to help drivers maximize fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impact. Each team will experience a unique, hands-on opportunity as they design their dashboard which will be accompanied by a written technical plan and a design video pitch to convince both auto manufacturers and the general public to adopt and embrace their new concepts, experiences and tools to better understand energy use in vehicles.

DASH+ teams must include two to five U.S. students enrolled in 9th through 12th grade, aged 14 or older, in fall 2009 and have an adult mentor. Registration is now available online at www.FuelOurFutureNow.com/contest.

www.FuelOurFutureNow.com is a dynamic, online destination advancing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education goals created by the U.S. Department of Energy, the X PRIZE Foundation, and Discovery Education. Featuring empowering resources that engage students in the science of alternative fuels and energy-efficient engineering, www.FuelOurFutureNow.com features targeted curriculum and lesson plans for all grade levels, as well as high-quality video, dynamic interactives, and additional resources teachers can use to achieve their STEM objectives.

The goal of the Progressive Insurance 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 competition for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon or energy equivalent (MPGe). The Progressive Insurance 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. For more information about the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, please visit www.progressiveautoxprize.org or email progressiveautopress@xprize.org. For related educational resources, please visit www.FuelOurFutureNow.com.

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 nearly 25,000 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 Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will inspire innovation that will produce more fuel efficient vehicle choices, helping to make a difference in people's lives. Progressive's products and services are available locally through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies in the U.S., online at http://www.progressive.com, and by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737).

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating and conducting competitions in four prize groups: Exploration (Space and Oceans), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, and Education & Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org.

Through a $3.5 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE has developed a national education program to engage students and the public in learning about advanced vehicle technologies, energy efficiency, climate change, alternative fuels and the science, technology, engineering, and math behind efficient vehicle development. A key component of the education program is www.FuelOurFutureNow.com, an online knowledge center developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and Discovery Education, offering stimulating science, technology, engineering and math lessons and resources for students, teachers, and families as the unique and engaging Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE competition unfolds

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