Avion, Kinetic Vehicles, and Western Washington University Compete for $10M Automotive X Prize

The Automotive X Prize in Los Angeles announced today it has chosen its first 22 teams to compete for $10 million in prizes that will be awarded for developing super fuel-efficient vehicles (100 miles per gallon or equivalent is the nominal goal). Among this first wave of contenders are three Northwest teams: Bellingham, WA-based Avion; Kinetic Vehicles, based in Cave Junction, OR; and the Vehicle Research Institute at Western Washington University in Bellingham.

Avion has built an aerodynamic, diesel-powered, ultra fuel-efficient sports car. The company is led by Craig Henderson.

Kinetic Vehicles has developed MAX, a turbocharged diesel-powered roadster. Its fuel comes from petroleum, biomass, or straight vegetable oil. Jack McCornack leads the operation.

—Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) has developed a series of cars called Viking, which run on gasoline, electricity, or biomethane and compressed natural gas. The VRI was founded by Michael Seal in the 1970s and is now headed by Eric Leonhardt.

The Automotive X Prize, which is sponsored by Progressive Insurance, will kick off its competition next year, holding stage races in several cities. More than 100 additional teams have signed letters of intent to compete so far, according to the X Prize website. The winners are expected to be announced in 2010. “The technologies reflected in this first wave of Registered Teams are as diverse as the teams themselves, and we look forward to hearing more about their individual ideas in advance of the 2009-2010 stage race competition,” said Julie Zona, director of team development and relations for the Automotive X Prize, in a statement.

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