The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE
(AXP) has chosen the state of Michigan to host a multi-stage competition that will pit some of the world's most fuel efficient vehicles against one another...and the reward is quite nice.
A $10 million purse will be awarded to a team
that produces a vehicle that achieves 100 MPGe (miles per gallon or energy equivalent) while
emitting less than 200 grams of greenhouse gases per mile -- and has a
business plan in place that demonstrates that 10,000 of the cars can be
produced in a year. As contest literature states, "It is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars."
Fifty-one super efficient cars from 41 teams survived the design judging phase and now aim to ready their vehicles for the start of on-track performance events in the spring of 2010 -- here in Michigan. AXP teamed up with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan International Speedway (MIS) to schedule a series of competition stages, some of which will be public, others closed door.
Initially, AXP had hoped to host the competition series in various states, but the economy derailed that plan. Senior director Eric Cahill says that Michigan was the logical choice because it remains the "epicenter" of the global auto industry.
The competition stages and public events are as follows, although additional public events may be announced at a later date.
- April 26 - May 7, 2010: SHAKEDOWN STAGE (CLOSED DOOR, MIS) Safety inspections and evaluations of competition vehicles, braking speed, lane change ability, acceleration and refueling/recharging time, among other elements. Non-elimination round.
- April 29, 2010 COMPETITION OPENER & WELCOME (PUBLIC EVENT, Michigan State Capitol, Lansing)
- June 20-28, 2010 KNOCKOUT QUALIFYING STAGE (CLOSED DOOR, MIS) Inspections will be re-conducted to certify readiness, then teams must demonstrate that their vehicles can achieve at least two-thirds of the stated 100 MPGe goal while also meeting expectations for range, emissions, and real world performance.
- July 2010 OPEN HOUSE Exact Date TBD (PUBLIC EVENT, MIS)
- July 19-30, 2010 FINALS STAGE (CLOSED DOOR, MIS) The remaining teams will compete in scored on-track challenges, and close with a "coast down" exercise to gain key performance information about the aerodynamics and rolling resistance to properly prepare the vehicles for the validation stage. Speed will be important and a maximum and minimum time for events will be established.
- August 2010 VALIDATION STAGE (CLOSED DOOR, EPA Labs, Ann Arbor and Argonne National Labs, Chicago) Top finalists will undergo dynamometer testing under controlled laboratory conditions at certified labs to verify performance results.
X PRIZE winners will be presented with their checks at an award ceremony in Washington, D.C. in September, 2010.
When talking with Cahill about the entrants, though he deigns to mention any favorites, his excitement is palpable. "Seeing some of these vehicles that have reached a state of development maturity that is impressive, very close to being on par with major automakers," he says. "They just need to add capital...to achieve the scale (necessary to compete)."
Hopefully, that is what the competition spurred by AXP will flush out of the bushes: a brand new kind of personal vehicle, whether it runs (crazily efficiently) on gasoline, finds a new way to extend battery range or is distributed in a radically new way...and Michigan will be the first to see the future.Source: Eric Cahill, Progressive Insurance Automotive X PrizeWriter: Kelli B. Kavanaugh