Three Far-Out Cars Share the $10M Automotive X-Prize

By Andrew Moseman | September 16, 2010 2:36 pm

[zenphotopress album=173 sort=sort_order number=3]

In Washington D.C. today, the X-Prize foundation doled out $10 million in prize money for the Automotive X-Prize, its competition begun in 2008 to build cars that break 100 miles per gallon (or equivalent) and still resemble usable commercial vehicles. They raced at Michigan International Speedway; they underwent inspection by Consumer Reports and the Department of Energy. This morning’s winnings were divvied up among three teams:

1. Edison 2’s “Very Light Car”
Runs on: E85 ethanol
Prize: $5,000,000

So named for weighing just more than 800 pounds—featherweight for a car—the vehicle from Edison 2 of Charlottesville, Virginia, took home the biggest slice of the prize money by winning the “mainstream” category.

In the “Mainstream” class, which offered the biggest cash prize, vehicles were required to have four wheels, seat four people and have a driving range of at least 200 miles. In other words, they had to offer the bare basics of a typical car [CNN].

The Very Light Car stayed light because it didn’t offer much more than that, though lead leader Oliver Kuttner says they did manage to squeeze in heater and basic ventilation.

2. X-Tracer‘s “E-Tracer” Car
Runs on: Electric battery power
Prize: $2,500,000

This one came to us from Switzerland, and goes 0 to 60 in less than 7 seconds.

The X-Tracer’s vehicle, called the E-Tracer 7009, had the highest fuel efficiency rating in the competition, measuring an equivalent of more than 197 mpg, according to the official X Prize results. The car accommodates two passengers in a design that looks like a motorcycle with a cab on top of it. [NPR]

Or, perhaps, the light cycles from the upcoming Tron: Legacy.

3. Li-ion Motors Corp‘s “Wave II”
Runs on: Electric battery power
Prize: $2,500,000

The Wave II, by a North Carolina team, is also a two-seater. It achieved the equivalent of 187 MPG, according to the X-Prize Foundation’s release.

All three vehicles are still very much in the development phase, and the big hurdle to clear between the X-Prize competition and the market (besides getting car buyers accustomed to funky designs) is safety.

For the competition, the car was not required to have air bags, side-view mirrors or other standard safety features. While the car is modeled after race cars and is able to survive serious crashes, it is not as safe as traditional cars in certain types of accidents, Kuttner said, such as a direct head-on collision with a heavy car. [Washington Post]

Related Content:
80beats: Around the World in 80 Days: Electric Car Race Begins
80beats: Next from X Prize: An Award for Cleaning up BP’s Oil Spill?
80beats: The Little Flying Car That Could… Get FAA Approval
Discoblog: Shell Eco-Marathon, our coverage of the ultra-high-mileage event this March.

Images: Edison; X-Prize Foundation; Li-ion Motors


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