The Automotive X PRIZE's goal is to "inspire a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles [100+ MPGe] that help break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change." At the New York Auto Show they announced that they have found a new sponsor, Progressive, a big insurance company. Knowing how climate change can drive up costs for insurers, it's probably not a surprising choice.
Progressive is giving $10 million for the prize (which will be split 3:1 between the "mainstream" and "alternative" categories of cars), and in return the Automotive X PRIZE will now be called the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize.
The independent and technology-neutral competition is open to teams from around the world that can design, build and bring to market 100 MPGe (miles per gallon energy equivalent) vehicles that people want to buy, and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance. [...]
The competition will comprise two vehicle classes: Mainstream and Alternative. Mainstream vehicles will be required to carry four or more passengers, have four or more wheels, and allow for a 200-mile range. Alternative-class vehicles will be required to carry two or more passengers, have no constraints on the number of wheels, and allow for a 100-mile range.
We will know the winners after the two long-distance races in 2009 and 2010. What makes this different from other competitions is that this isn't just about technology; the goal is to make something that can be commercially viable.