October 21, 2009, 10:53 AM — There were 111, now there are 43. That's the number of qualified teams looking to build mass-production-capable cars that can get at least 100 MPG and qualify for the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize.
According to the X Prize folks, teams that have passed this most recent phase of judging have proven to the competition's automotive and technical experts that their vehicles will be available in time for formal vehicle challenges next spring, will be production capable, and can plausibly meet or exceed the competition requirements. Performance testing will begin in spring 2010 and winners will be announced in September 2010.
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There are now a total of 43 teams with 53 vehicles representing 18 states, 10 countries and 6 fuel types moving forward in the competition with 28 represented in the Mainstream Class and 25 represented in what's known as the Alternative Class, X Prize stated.
An example of an alternative class entry comes from the West Philly Hybrid X Team whose two-seater, biodiesel hybrid sports car will run on a Volkswagen TDI 1.9 liter engine and an Azure Dynamics electric motor driving the rear-wheels of the vehicle. The electric motor will be the primary drive motor for cruising around town under 50 mph.
From the competition's Web site some of the chief goals of the program are:• Safety, Emissions: Vehicles must be designed so that a production vehicle would likely be able to meet U.S. safety standards and U.S. emissions standards• Manufacturability, Cost: Vehicles must be capable of being manufactured in quantities of 10,000 per year, with vehicle production costs within levels consistent with historical examples of comparable vehicles• Features: Vehicles must be desirable, addressing the most important features and factors consumers consider when purchasing an automobile• Business Plan: There must be a credible plan to manufacture, sell, and service 10,000 vehicles (or conversions) per year by 2014. The plan must show that the national fuel infrastructure will support the vehicles, especially if any non-standard fuels or fueling-methods are to be used.
The automotive challenge is but one of the wild X Prize challenges going on. The Google Lunar X Prize is a $30 million competition for the first privately funded team to send a robot to the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit video, images and data back to the Earth. The Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge is a two-level, two million dollar competition requiring a vehicle to simulate trips between the moon's surface and lunar orbit.