Two teams from the Atlantic states and one from Switzerland shared the $10 million in prize money for the Automotive X Prize, awarded Thursday at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
The winning teams — Edison2 of Lynchburg, Va.; X-Tracer of Winterthur, Switzerland; and Li-ion Motors Corp. of Mooresville, N.C. — emerged from an original field of 111 competing teams, representing 136 vehicle entries from around the world.
One of the winners, Li-ion Motors, has a Michigan connection.
The winning vehicles were showcased to an audience of auto industry, business and government leaders.
Each of the winning teams was also presented with a towering bronze trophy designed by Harry Winston Inc.
The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE was launched in 2008 to inspire a new generation of viable, safe and super fuel-efficient vehicles capable of achieving 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent. Now, after nearly 30 months of vehicle and business plan development, on-track testing at Michigan International Speedway which included dynamic safety testing by partner Consumer Reports, and laboratory verification at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab, three vehicles emerge as winners:
$5 Million Mainstream Class Winner:
Edison2 “Very Light Car #98” (Charlottesville, Va.)
Economy: 102.5 MPGe
Fuel: E85 ethanol
Boasting the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, this vehicle demonstrated over 100 MPGe on the test track, and verified in the lab, under stringent testing conditions using a highly innovative small displacement engine. Its low weight of just 830 pounds is a tribute to its use of light weight materials, reduced engine displacement and a host of other weight-saving innovations.
$2.5 Million Alternative Side-by-Side Class Winner:
Li-ion Motors Corp “Wave II” (Mooresville, N.C.)
Economy: 187 MPGe
Fuel: Battery Electric
This side-by-side two-seat battery electric car was built on a lightweight aluminum chassis and weighs in at only 2,176 pounds, despite the weight of its powerful lithium ion batteries. The Wave II demonstrated outstanding low mechanical and aerodynamic drag that resulted in 187 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory efficiency testing, a 14.7s zero-to-60 mph acceleration time, and over 100 miles range over a real-world driving cycle. LiIon used the ForceDrive electric powetrain from Oak Park-based Azure Dynamics Inc.
$2.5 Million Alternative Tandem Class Winner:
X-Tracer Team Switzerland “E-Tracer #79” (Winterthur, Switzerland)
Economy: 205.3 MPGe
Fuel: Battery Electric
This tandem two-seat vehicle combines the best of motorcycles and automobiles. This clever design has two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. At 1436 pounds, the E-Tracer is able to deliver over 100 miles in range, led the competition with over 200 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory fuel efficiency and achieved a zero-to- 60 mph acceleration time of just 6.6 seconds.
The awards ceremony participants included Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Speaker of the United States House of Representatives; Progressive Insurance President and CEO Glenn Renwick; X Prize Foundation Chairman and CEO Peter H. Diamandis; Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Chairman, House Energy and Environment Committee; Cathy Zoi, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va.
Also present at today’s announcement were several of the other vehicles that competed in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. Specifically, vehicles on display included: Spira4U, of Thailand; Commuter Cars’ Tango of Spokane, Wash. Amp’d Sky of Blue Ash, Ohio; Aptera 2e of San Diego, Calif.; RaceAbout of Finland; TW4XP of Germany; Western Washington University’s Viking 45 of Bellingham, Wash.; the ZAP Alias of Santa Rosa, Calif.; The West Philly EVX of Philadelphia, Pa.,; and Illuminati’s Seven of Springfield, Ill.
While the prize has now been awarded, the journey continues for the winning teams. They will immediately begin leveraging their winning status, prize money and connections made over the course of the competition to catapult their vehicle into the consumer market. Under a U.S. Department of Energy-funded technical assistance program, qualified Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competitors will also gain funding support for access to key automotive expertise and test facilities. The aim of the program is to assist teams in readying their vehicles and technologies for introduction to the market.
“We’ve seen a shift in the market since we first launched this competition, and a greater awareness by people everywhere to think more seriously about the actions we take, and how they affect our environment,” Diamandis said. “Gas mileage ranks as one of our top concerns when purchasing a new vehicle and I believe strongly that the innovations showcased throughout the life of this competition will continue to impact and improve our car buying options for the future.”
Added Renwick: “Congratulations to the winners and to all the teams who competed over the course of this competition. Their innovations and hard work are truly inspirational. We’re extremely proud to support a competition that will result in more super fuel-efficient vehicle choices; choices that will make people’s lives better.”
For detailed information about each winning team and to learn more about the competition, visit www.progressiveautoxprize.org.
A one-hour documentary titled “X Prize Cars: Accelerating The Future” debuted Thursday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time on the National Geographic Channel and will no doubt be repeated.
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