The original field of 136 experimental vehicles vying for the $10 million prize in Progressive Insurance’s Automotive X PRIZE competition has been whittled down to just nine finalists, competition organizers said Tuesday. Each of these finalists, having handed down-track testing at Michigan International Speedway, now move onto the validation phase, where the vehicles must prove they can exceed 100 MPGe, which represents “miles per gallon energy equivalent.”
The realm of nine includes:
Mainstream Class (Two vehicles, one team)
• Edison2, Very Light Car #97 (Charlottesville, VA), Internal Combustion Engine
• Edison2, Very Light Car #98 (Charlottesville, VA), Internal Combustion Engine
Alternative Class – Tandem (Two vehicles, one team)
• X-Tracer, E-Tracer #72 (Switzerland), Battery Electric
• X-Tracer, E-Tracer #79 (Switzerland), Battery Electric
Alternative Class – Side-by-Side (Five vehicles, five teams)
• Aptera, Aptera 2e (San Diego, CA), Battery Electric
• Li-ion Motors, Wave II (N . C .), Battery Electric
• RaceAbout Association, RaceAbout (Finland), Battery Electric
• TW4XP, TW4XP (Germany), Battery Electric
• ZAP, Alias (Santa Rosa, CA), Battery Electric
The competition centers on fuel efficiency. “MPGe is really a measure of simply how much energy is defined into a vehicle against just how far it will travel using that energy,” says X PRIZE Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis. Whereas competition organizers stayed out of the way the competitors approached the problem, each team did need so that you can fuel their vehicle making use of the existing infrastructure. This meant that gas, electricity and biofuels were fair game but hydrogen was off limits.
The vehicles are divided into three classes: mainstream, alternative tandem and alternative side-by-side. At an awards ceremony on September 16 in Washington, D.C., the winner in the mainstream class will receive $5 million, whereas $2.5 million will go to all the two alternative vehicle classes.
During the validation phase, all vehicles undergo dynamometer simulated road testing under controlled laboratory conditions at Argonne National Laboratory facilities in Illinois. The automobile in each class that exceeds 100 MPGe, meets the emissions and performance requirements, and, in the case of a tie, completes a combined efficiency and performance challenge together with the fastest time, will win.
Many of the competitors have been startup ventures trying to prove an idea and perhaps catch the eye of bigger players in the auto industry. The Aptera team, for example, is pushing to create a production style of its all-electric 2e vehicle within the next season. Aptera, that has received investments from IdeaLab and Google, is competing in the alternative side-by-side class, which means the design and style allows the passenger and driver to be seated next to one another in a small cockpit.