Automotive X-PRIZE Competition Announcement at Detroit Auto Show


X Prize booth at Detroit Auto Show. Photos courtesy of Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize

The Automotive X Prize, a $10 million competition for super fuel-efficient vehicles, announced at the North American Auto Show in Detroit this week that its much anticipated on-track competition will finally kick off April 26 and continue through August 2010. It will be hosted by the state of Michigan, which "put the world on wheels," as Governor Jennifer Granholm put it. Partnered with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, this should give the beleaguered Motor City region a shot in the arm. But will it drive the former Big Three US car manufacturers to consider these auto designs?The 51 vehicles that qualified must achieve the goal of 100 MPGe (miles per gallon or energy equivalent) for range, emissions, and performance. The contest seeks to develop real, production-capable cars for consumers - not science projects or concept cars. This latest effort of the X Prize Foundation hopes to inspire a new generation of viable, fuel-efficient vehicles (guess not that silver one pictured above). Musician Neil Young hoped to join the race with his retro Linc Volt, but pulled out.


Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of X Prize Foundation on the far right. Photo from PIAXP
Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of The X PRIZE Foundation said at the venue announcement:

"As the birthplace of the American automotive industry, Michigan has the knowledge base, the talent, and the facilities to support the innovation central to achieving the goals of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE and the future of the automotive industry."

Other X Prize efforts include Paul Allen's private spaceflight, human genome research, and Google's Lunar X Prize for getting a robot on the moon. The foundation creates prizes for entrepreneurial breakthroughs in technology for the benefit of humanity, driving innovation in the life sciences, exploration, education, global development, energy and the environment.

The Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize will pit these super fuel-efficient vehicles in a series of scored evaluations for the efficiency, safety and performance of each vehicle under real world conditions. The challenges will be closed door events at the Michigan International Speedway. The public gets up-close views of the vehicles on select days, including the opening event April 29 at the State Capitol in Lansing.

The timeline for the closed-door competitions follow:

The Shakedown Stage
From April 26 to May 7, safety tests are conducted for braking speed, lane change ability, acceleration, and refueling/recharging time to prepare vehicles, without judges' elimination.

Knockout Qualifying Stage
On June 20-28, the field narrows with Automotive X PRIZE officials conducting inspections to certify readiness to achieve emissions thresholds.

Finals
Top finalists in each class compete July 19-30, in on-track challenges, including a "coast down" exercise for key information on aerodynamics and rolling resistance.

Validation Stage
In August, the final technical event for Mainstream and Alternative classes. Finalists undergo dynamometer testing under controlled laboratory conditions at certified labs (EPA Labs in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Argonne National Labs in Chicago, Illinois). All test results are combined for speed, efficiency and emissions to determine who did the best at getting 100 MPG.

A free one-day "show-and-tell" will include DASH+, the educational part of the X PRIZE, funded by the US Department of Energy, involving a contest of national high school displays about fuel-efficiency and reduced emissions innovations. The award ceremony for winners sharing the $10 million purse is scheduled in Washington, DC in September.

More on the Automotive X PRIZE:
Slideshow: Cars of the Automotive X-Prize
X Prize "Crazy Green Idea" Competition Winner Announced
Man Builds 100 MPG Lotus Replica that Runs on Homebrewed Biodiesel

Tags: Clean Energy | Detroit Auto Show | Electric Vehicles | Fuel Efficiency