Automotive X Prize: Preliminary Guidelines Released

We need desirable, affordable, and fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Our collective addiction to oil is hurting consumers, undermining the economy, exacerbating international conflicts, damaging the environment, and threatening the health of the planet. But how will we get them? The X PRIZE Foundation, a non-profit with the mission to bring about radical breakthroughs in space and technology for the benefit of humanity, proposes a challenging multi-year competition with a multi-million-dollar cash purse - the Automotive X PRIZE (AXP).

Widely known for the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE that successfully challenged teams to build private spacecraft, the X PRIZE Foundation is taking a step toward launching the AXP that will inspire super-efficient vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon (2.35 liters per 100km) or its equivalent. Open to the public, AXP teams can be composed of major auto companies or independent innovators but must prove that they are capable of designing and building production-capable, super-efficient vehicles. The contest is already endorsed by TreeHugger friends and contributors NRDC, The Union of Concerned Scientists and The Apollo Alliance.The international, independent competition will be open to multiple fuels and technologies. To reflect this, the guidelines introduce a new yardstick to replace the outdated MPG (miles per gallon). The new standard is Miles per Gallon equivalent (MPGe), which takes into account energy equivalence, no matter what the energy source. Vehicles that fit the bill will compete in a series of rigorous stage races that test the vehicles under real-world driving requirements and conditions. Vehicles will compete in two different categories - Mainstream (4+ passengers, 4+ wheels) and Alternative (2+ passengers, no requirement on number of wheels). Winning vehicles must exceed 100 miles per gallon or its equivalent, while also meeting rigorous emission requirements.

The product of thousands of hours of debate and deliberation by the AXP and its advisory board of experts, preliminary guidelines were released last week at the 2007 New York International Auto Show and can be found here. If after reviewing the guidelines you feel compelled to add your two cents you can do so here. :: Automotive X Prize
Standard car article advice: Walk, cycle, carpool, take public transit, car-share, telecommute. Try to live close to the things you need and to where you work. But if you have to own a car, get the most efficient model that fills your needs, drive sanely, combine trips, keep it in good mechanical condition and keep your tires properly inflated.