After a series of eliminations at Michigan International Speedway over the past several weeks, the original 136 vehicles that qualified to enter the Automotive X Prize were narrowed down to nine final survivors. In this ‘revolution through competition,’ the vehicles aimed for the best super-fuel efficiency — 100 mpg or its equivalent – in hopes of earning the $10 million purse. Two combustion engine vehicles and seven electric vehicles reached 90 MPGe in the on-track tests. So what’s next before the winner is chosen?
Next, the vehicles remaining, from teams based in the US, Switzerland, Finland and Germany, head to the laboratory for the Validation Stage. Whether they can reach the 100 MPGe target as well as meet emissions and performance requirements will determine the top vehicle.
In the Shakedown and Knockout stages, the competing teams were reduced to 33 vehicles, including Tata Motors and Tango, with 15 making it to the third event. Rigorous tests, judged on energy consumed, greenhouse gas emissions and dynamic safety found failures including range (100 miles or 50 laps), acceleration, technical inspections, or CO2 output.
Here are the contenders in the finals stage:
Mainstream Class: Edison2 (Virginia) two “Very Light Cars” (combustion engines)
Alternative Class (Tandem): X-Tracer (Switzerland) two vehicles
If two or more pass the next stage of scrutiny, the combined results of the challenges with the fastest time will determine the winning vehicle. The focus of the Automotive X Prize is on innovative fuel-efficiency with smaller transportation companies.
“These cars redefine what is possible and set a new standard of efficiency that promises to revolutionize the industry,” Eric Cahill, Senior Director of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize.
Though some of the vehicles look fit for space travel, perhaps auto manufacturers will examine the engineering of the fuel-efficiency and not rely solely on their own 32 mpg designs? The $10 million might open up options for future transportation. The reward is presented on September 16 in Washington, D.C. See below for more on other X Prizes and more images of the cars.