X-Prize competition for ultra-efficient car speeds ahead

X-Prize narrows final field to 43 competing car designs in two classes.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Ten million dollars will go to the team that has designed, builds and runs the best car with a minimum of 100 MPG rating. The X-prize folks have now narrowed the field to 53 designs submitted from across the globe. Among those making the cut: Tata Motors of India and engineering students at Cornell University. Of the car designs moving forward: 28 are in the Mainstream Class and 25 in the Alternative Class.

Here you can find a list of the teams in the final competition. American universities are Cornell and Western Washington. There is also one public high entered: West Philly. Read about them here.

The only car makers I recognize on the list: Tata and ZAP. Tesla did not make the cut. Ooops. None of the big guys dare put their engineering to this test. Honda, Mercedes, GM, Toyota--nope.

One team is entering a Toyota chasis. They promise a "steam combustion" engine in a Prius! The two areas of concentration seem to be: highly efficient energy use, of course, and then very light materials in the vehicle itself.

Britain's Delta Motorsport is building an electric car with a small hydrogen fuel celland small back-up internalcombustion engine.

Delta Motorsport's X-Prize entry.

The X-Prize Foundation recently got $5.5 billion from the federal government for this clean car competition. “Our clean energy future depends on our ability to design and commercialize new highly-efficient vehicles that are cost-effective for consumers and use significantly less energy,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This funding will support cutting-edge, American innovation that can help us fundamentally transform personal transportation and address the global climate crisis.”

Here's what the X-Prize folks have to say about their own mission: "The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE."

For the fifty-three competing vehicles performance testing will begin in spring 2010 and winners will be announced in September 2010. Exact dates and locations will be announced shortly. This could be fun to watch.

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