We Can Get There From Here: The Automotive X Prize Awards $10 Million to 3 Winners

A very light car powered by an internal combustion engine (and fueled by a standard gasoline-ethanol blend known as E85) won the $5 million purse today in the Progressive Automotive X Prize—proving you don’t need an electric vehicle to get over 100 mpg.

The nonprofit X Prize Foundation and Progressive Insurance, which sponsored the automotive incentive prize, named the Edison2 from Charlottesville, VA, as the mainstream class winner in a ceremony today at the Historical Society of Washington D.C. The sponsors also awarded $2.5 million apiece to winning entries in two other categories—The Li-ion Motors team from Mooresville, NC, was the winner in the automotive design category requiring a driver and passenger sit side-by-side; and the X-Tracer team from Winterthur, Switzerland, won for its E-Tracer entry in the tandem category for hybrid motorcycle-automotive designs.

The three winners emerged from 136 vehicle entries submitted by 111 teams from around the world. The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE was launched in 2008 to spur the development of a new generation of viable, safe and super fuel-efficient vehicles capable of achieving the energy equivalent of at least 100 miles per gallon. The evaluation process included on-track testing at the Michigan International Speedway, which included dynamic safety testing by Consumer Reports, and laboratory verification by the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. The X Prize provided these details about each of the three winners:

$5 Million Mainstream Class Winner

Edison2 “Very Light Car #98”

Edison2_VeryLightCarEconomy: 102.5 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent)

Fuel: E85 ethanol

Edison2 showed the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds. Its low weight of just 830 pounds is a tribute to its use of lightweight materials, reduced engine displacement and a host of other weight-saving innovations.

$2.5 Million Alternative Side-by-Side Class Winner

Li-ion Motors “Wave II #27”

li-ion Wave IIEconomy: 187 MPGe

Fuel: Battery Electric

This side-by-side two-seat battery electric car was built on a lightweight aluminum chassis and weighs only 2,176 pounds, despite the weight of its powerful lithium ion batteries. The outstanding low mechanical and aerodynamic drag resulted in 187 MPGe in combined on-track and laboratory efficiency testing, a 14.7 second zero-to-60 mph acceleration time, and over 100 miles of range over a real-world driving cycle.

$2.5 Million Alternative Tandem Class Winner

X-Tracer Team Switzerland “E-Tracer #79”

E-TracerEconomy: 205.3 MPGe

Fuel: Battery Electric

This tandem two-seat vehicle has a clever design with two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. 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.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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