The Viking 45 is a gas/electric hybrid that seats two people side-by-side. This puts the car into the $2.5 million prize category that still has eight other vehicles in it. To win the prize, the Viking 45 is going to need to improve its mile per gallon equivalency rating, which was 82 mpge in the Knockout Stage. That's fine for now, but they'll need to reach 100 mpge next month if they want to walk away a winner.This is a huge accomplishment for our team, these students and our technical support people. We've been working on this for several years, but when you really get down to it, we put all this together since December. ... If our car doesn't break down, and if it runs like we know it can, we do have a legitimate shot at winning it.
WWU is one of just 12 teams remaining in $10-million X Prize 100-mpg auto competition
BELLINGHAM - A team of students from Western Washington University in Bellingham is among the dozen remaining entrants in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition, which is taking place through August in Detroit.
The team, from WWU's Vehicle Research Institute, has successfully completed the rigorous set of efficiency, safety, technical and range tests set before it in the past two weeks and will advance to the competition finals beginning July 19.
"This is a huge accomplishment for our team, these students and our technical support people," Leonhardt said. "We've been working on this for several years, but when you really get down to it, we put all this together since December."
The latest standings on the automotive X Prize website show that 16 cars from 12 teams remain in the competition. Nine of those vehicles are in the alternative side-by-side class, which includes WWU's Viking 45 vehicle.
The winners of each of the three categories (alternative side-by-side, alternative tandem and mainstream) will split the $10-million purse, with the mainstream winner getting $5 million and the two alternative winners splitting the rest.
"Honestly, it's a longshot, but it's also possible," Leonhardt said. "If our car doesn't break down, and if it runs like we know it can, we do have a legitimate shot at winning it."
This morning and yesterday, the WWU team passed a series of safety and emissions tests, which included a 0-to-60-mph acceleration test, a 60-to-0-mph braking test, a lateral acceleration ("skidpad") test, a 40-to-65-mph highway acceleration test and an accident avoidance (emergency lane change maneuver) test.
Last week, the team successfully passed several efficiency and range tests, achieving the equivalent of 82 miles per gallon (after 10 MPGe were deducted due to penalties) in city, urban and highway driving. The vehicle also completed the required 68-mile range test. Results of those tests for all vehicles are available online here.
Finals testing includes a quick repeat of the static and dynamic safety checks, followed by a series of scored on-track challenges and a final "coast down" exercise to gain key performance information about the aerodynamics and rolling resistance to properly prepare the vehicles for the validation stage. Speed will be important, and a maximum and minimum time for events will be established.
Leonhardt said that the road to get where the VRI is today has been long and difficult, from fundraising to contracts to actually building the car.
The result thus far, however, has been worth it.
"We have succeeded," Leonhardt said.
For more information, contact the WWU Office of University Communications at (360) 650-3350 or firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on the WWU X Prize team is available at http://www.wwu.edu/westerntoday. Information on the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize can be found at http://www.progressiveautoxprize.org/.