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31 Teams Are Signed Up to Compete for Automotive X Prize

More than 30 teams have signed a letter of intent to compete for the Automotive X Prize (earlier post) once the prize is officially funded and launched.

The Automotive X Prize follows the model of the Ansari X Prize for private space flight, offering a multi-million dollar purse—the exact amount not yet specified—to the teams that win a long-distance stage race for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG equivalent (MPGe) and meet specified emissions criteria.

The 30 plus teams include groups from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. More than 300 additional teams have inquired about joining.

The independent and technology-neutral AXP competition is open to teams from around the world to prove they can design, build and bring to market 100 MPG or equivalent fuel economy vehicles that people want to buy. Industry experts will scrutinize team plans. Those that qualify will race their vehicles in cross-country stages that combine speed, distance, urban driving and overall performance. The winners will be the vehicles that exceed 100 MPG equivalent, fall under strict emissions caps and finish in the fastest time.

The competition is expected to travel through multiple cities while broadcast to a global audience in 2009 and 2010. The organizers hope to build consumer demand for vehicles in the competition and demonstrate many practical, clean and affordable vehicle options. Cities involved in the competition route have not yet been chosen.

The AXP has received support and encouragement from several government agencies that will help the privately funded organization conduct the competition and test vehicle compliance, including the US Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratory; the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway, Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHA); the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ); and the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

In addition, non-governmental organizations supporting the AXP include the National Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, the Apollo Alliance, the Consumer Federation of America, Global Green USA, CALSTART and Greenpeace among others.

The AXP has recently finalized a supporting sponsorship from Adobe. Other early AXP sponsors and donors include Idealab, Ray Sidney of Big George Ventures, the Elbaz Foundation, and the Jack D. Hidary Foundation.

Once fundraising for the prize purse and administration is complete, the AXP will officially launch.

The following 31 teams have signed a letter of intent signaling their intent to apply for the AXP competition:

  • Aptera Motors - California, USA
  • Commuter Cars Corp. - Washington, USA
  • Cornell University - New York, USA
  • DEHyds - Washington, USA
  • Delta Motorsport - Northants, UK
  • Desert Fuel - Arizona, USA
  • Disruptech - California, USA
  • Dragonfly Technology LTD - Northhampton, UK
  • Fuel Vapor Technologies - British Columbia, Can
  • GreenIt! - Oregon, USA
  • Herf Duo - Berlin, Germany
  • HyKinesys - California, USA
  • Kinetic Vehicles - Oregon, USA
  • Kuttner Doran Inventions - Virginia, USA
  • Loremo AG - Munich, Germany
  • Maine Automotive X - Maine, USA
  • MDI, Inc. & Zero Pollution Motors LLC - New York, USA
  • Michigan Vision - Michigan, USA
  • MotoTron Corporation - Wisconsin, USA
  • Phoenix Motorcars - California, USA
  • Prometheus Systems, LLC - Arizona, USA
  • Porteon Electric Vehicles, Inc. - Oregon, USA
  • Psycho-Active - Georgia, USA
  • Roane Inventions - Texas, USA
  • Society for Sustainable Mobility - California, USA
  • Spirit One - Alberta, Canada
  • Tesla Motors - California, USA
  • Valentin Technologies - Wisconsin, USA
  • Velozzi - California, USA
  • X Tracer - Winterthur, Switzerland
  • ZAP Motors - California, USA

Comments

jack

So, basically a lot of existing electric vehicle manufacturers whose vehicles could already claim 100+ mpg, depending on how one wishes to stretch those numbers. What's the point again?

marcus

Perhaps the point is publicity. I at least would enjoy watching this....

KJD

The point is to have some fun and see what car can hold up the best in a controlled "race". How about a really long race to test reliablity, say maybe LA to DC would be interesting.

Sure I would say that Tesla and Pheonix are the odds on favorite right now, but I would not rule out a PHEV being right near the top.

It seems like Hymotion and CalCars should have entries here but I do not see them in the list.

Scatter

If you follow through to the press release there are links to most of the manufacturers. You'll see there are quite a few non-EVs on there. The point is to kick start and demonstrate the enormous market for ultra efficient cars (both practical and performance and a combination of the two) which is brewing right now. Don't forget that one of the requirements of winning is to produce a business plan demonstrating a market for 10,000 vehicles a year.

Nice to see a load of new companies have popped onto the radar. And these are only the initial letters of intent. It's going to be interesting!

jack

Don't forget that one of the requirements of winning is to produce a business plan demonstrating a market for 10,000 vehicles a year.

Didn't Tesla (and others) already do that absent any prize to incent them? I thought the point of the prize was to help accelerate technological development because of some forms of market failures which kept useful things from coming to market. Hence the big dollar amount of the prize.

Seems like if they wanted to push past what the market already is doing would be something more in the 200 mpg range.

Scatter

It was originally reported as 250mpg. The Roadster doesn't have a market for 10,000 units. I'm sure the Whitestar would though. I think it's a combination of all of the above reasons really.

I like the sound of doing it in various cities and televising it worldwide though. Thumbs up to them!

litesong

Jack...A race for MPG, not for speed...ICE advocates will say it'll be worse than watching paint dry. But ICE has had its day in the sun & look at the millions that have died prematurely because of the auto polluted air they breathed. Jack, you may not get it. But the millions who have died get it...or would get it if they still lived. Those still living with breathing diseases get it.

Henrik

It is surprising that Miles Electric Vehicles is not among the 30 competitors. They have just announces that they will start the sale in 2008 of a $30.000 EV that can go 80mph for 120 miles. They expect to be able to produce and sell 100.000 for the US market in 2011. See http://www.greencarcongress.com/2007/07/miles-electri-1.html#more. They may have a winner.

jack

Jack...A race for MPG, not for speed...

I understand that.

ICE advocates will say it'll be worse than watching paint dry. But ICE has had its day in the sun & look at the millions that have died prematurely because of the auto polluted air they breathed. Jack, you may not get it. But the millions who have died get it...or would get it if they still lived. Those still living with breathing diseases get it.

Breathing diseases? If MPG is the only concern, you'd be getting a whole lot more "breathing diseases", since it's not much to make a 100 mpg microcar with a diesel engine that would be quite nasty in terms of tailpipe emissions. Sounds like you only care about this prize if an electric vehicle wins.

Did you know that the smog-forming emissions (NOx) of an electric vehicle are more than 10 times as bad as a comparable gasoline vehicle with top-end emissions controls? I bet you didn't.

greg woulf

Nox is only worse if you take the worst case coal for your numbers.

Where you get the energy from is not the fault of the car. EV's have the potential to have Zero Nox and other pollution from operating the car, and manufacturing isn't as harmful as manufacturing an ICE.

These type of Chicken before the egg excuses are what keeps us in this mess.

litesong

My Washington State produces equivalent electric energy at only 4% of the pollution of mobile individual ICE. Washingtonians have also passed an initiative for extra cost renewable energy production sources to DRIVE that 4% even lower. With the introduction of renewable electric production, all states can have my state's targets to aim at. Plus, EVs are 3 to 4 times more efficient than ICEs. Jack, go eat your next 10,000 meals while directly breathing the emissions of a running ICE exhaust pipe, if you you love ICE so much. Millions of children living right next to freeways(what a misnomer) have already done that...& died.

The competition is open. We will see who wins.

KJD

"Did you know that the smog-forming emissions (NOx) of an electric vehicle are more than 10 times as bad as a comparable gasoline vehicle with top-end emissions controls? I bet you didn't."

I would bet that you are mistaken on this point. Where did you get those numbers, Fox News ?

My Electric Vehicle gets almost all of its electricity from the solar panels on the roof of my workshop.

When the sun does not shine enough, I get 100% grid power from windmills. The extra cost was only 2 cents per kWh over buying dirty coal electricity. Better to be part of the solution, than part of the problem.

I would agree that NOx and mercury emmissions are a problem from Coal, but not to the amount that you state. This problem is also easy to fix.

Neil

The Tesla roadster would have to compete in the much less valuable "alternate" category... it only seats two. They'll have to bring out a white star prototype for the race.

One shame in the rules for the alternative vehicles is the rule about side-by-side seating. That would rule out the Venture1 (a vehicle I've been drooling over) which uses tandem seating. flytheroad.com

jack

Nox is only worse if you take the worst case coal for your numbers.

No, that's not correct. Standard grid mix.

Where you get the energy from is not the fault of the car.

So, then gas and diesel are OK, since one can't fault the car that uses them, by that logic.

EV's have the potential to have Zero Nox and other pollution from operating the car, and manufacturing isn't as harmful as manufacturing an ICE.

The first part is true, but not really relevant absent changes in the grid (since most people will continue to use it) and the latter assertion would be hard to prove.

These type of Chicken before the egg excuses are what keeps us in this mess.

No, technology and economics have kept us in this mess, along with dumb policies and human laziness and selfishness. EVs have been around as long as cars have been around, yet they've never gotten a real foothold.

Range and recharge times matter - and so do upfront costs. And those aren't the only problems the technology has had.

-----

Jack, go eat your next 10,000 meals while directly breathing the emissions of a running ICE exhaust pipe, if you you love ICE so much. Millions of children living right next to freeways(what a misnomer) have already done that...& died.

Grow up, please. I don't "love" ICEs - not in the least.

-----

I would bet that you are mistaken on this point. Where did you get those numbers, Fox News ?

Another jerkish comment. No, I got them from looking at NOx emissions data for the US grid. All the data one needs is in these tables:
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/epates.html

Average electricity is relatively low CO2 and fairly high NOx when comparing similar fossil and electric vehicles.

My Electric Vehicle gets almost all of its electricity from the solar panels on the roof of my workshop. When the sun does not shine enough, I get 100% grid power from windmills.

That's good for you, but isn't likely to be replicated at mass adoption level.

I would agree that NOx and mercury emmissions are a problem from Coal, but not to the amount that you state. This problem is also easy to fix.

Transitioning to an entirely different kind of electricity delivery infrastructure is "easy to fix"? In this country? I think not.

Neil

jack: You can't always apply the US grid mix ... not everyone lives there. The grid I live on is at least 80% hydro. France is mostly nuke. If your grid is dirty, that's a separate problem that needs to be fixed anyway. Scrubbers can be retrofitted to existing plants. EVs may or may not pollute ... that's your choice. ICE by its nature must pollute.

Trevor

"To complete a race successfully, vehicles must complete all race stages while meeting the AXP requirements for fuel economy and emissions averaged over all scoring stages. For those vehicles that successfully complete the race, race placement will be determined by the total race time averaged over all scoring stages. Thus, the fastest vehicle will be the winner. Vehicles that do not maintain the AXP requirements for MPGe fuel economy will be disqualified."

The fastest production vehicle that meets all other requirements will win.

It doesn't matter what technology a vehicle uses to get that MPGe number. It very well may be an ICE dependent design. My knee-jerk vote would be for the Tesla Motors car though.

People don't die from exhaust gases unless you're talking about carbon monoxide poisoning. Most of the time this is an intentional act and not the fault of the technology that makes it possible. More people die or have "breathing diseases" or conditions due to cigarette smoke than automotive tailpipe emissions. Smoking is like voluntarily wrapping your lips around one and taking a big breath time after time throughout the day.

When will tobacco companies be made to create smokeless or low emission cigarettes? Second-hand smoke poses a much higher health hazard than automotive tailpipe emissions do. The solution to litesong's problem/issue has nothing to do with cars... ban cigarette's and force people to use nicotene inhalers.

My point is just that cars are not the only source of greenhouse gases and all other dangerous emissions. Sorry to disappoint you but this site called "greencarcongress.com" not "carbashersanonymous.com. It's a site that showcases and enables free discussion about advances that may someday make production cars greener.

If you think cars are inherently bad, make a difference and take your bike to work every day that you can.

Roger Pham

Thanks, Jack, for putting the whole thing, EV vs. ICE, in perspective.

It would be unfair for BEV or PHEV to claim outrageously high mpg figure when their electricity is produced at an average utility efficiency of ~33% from the fuel source to the grid. If dividing the wh/mi number of BEV by the efficiency of electrical generation as averaged at the grid nation-wide, one will see that BEV's will be comparable to a full-hybrid ICE-HEV.
Under this more realistic scenario, then the 100 mpg target is way too high to achieve for a 4-occupants vehicle that will be commercially viable in the marketplace that must also pass all US safety and emission regulation.
For sure, many foreign-market cars classified under the "micro-car" category already got ~60-70 mpg with just a puny ICE of about ~600cc, and with a full-hybrid drive train, these may be able to reach 100 mpg. But, bringing these to the US and expect these to pass US regulations and expect anyone here to buy them at 10,000 units yearly is totally ridiculous. Quite an unrealistc competion, IMHO.

jack

jack: You can't always apply the US grid mix ... not everyone lives there.

It's an international competition, and the applicability of the technology is supposed to be international, so one mucst necessarily conceptualize it at a broader scale than regional or personal variations.

The grid I live on is at least 80% hydro. France is mostly nuke. If your grid is dirty, that's a separate problem that needs to be fixed anyway. Scrubbers can be retrofitted to existing plants. EVs may or may not pollute ... that's your choice. ICE by its nature must pollute.

May. Can. Has nothing to do with whether it will be or not, nor does it address the rather substantial difference in NOx emissions between a fossil vehicle with leading-edge emissions equipment compared to an EV plugged in to an average wall. This argument people keep making about EVs potential has little to do with what will actually happen were there to be widespread adoption of the technology.

It doesn't matter what technology a vehicle uses to get that MPGe number. It very well may be an ICE dependent design. My knee-jerk vote would be for the Tesla Motors car though.

Looking at the competition guidelines, it's almost as if it's tailor-made to favor the Tesla (just look at the range requirement - exactly what Tesla has predicted its range will be).

The MPGe system is a joke, because basically any EV could meet that, since their standard involves the plug/pump point as the point at which energy efficiency is measured. EVs lose a lot of their efficiency from the power plant to the plug, whereas fossil vehicles lose most of theirs from the pump to the wheels.

Plug-to-wheels and the Tesla is at 160-180 MPGe with what they say their at-wheel energy efficiency is. But take that from the power plant energy content, it drops to between 51 MPGe (national grid, lhv for gasoline) to 93 MPGe (NG cogen, hhv for gasoline).

They have greenhouse gas parameters in the requirements, and those trace back to the power plant level, so I don't get why they go plug/pump for the fuel economy.

Trevor

"MAINSTREAM CLASS REQUIREMENTS
Capacity: 4 or more passengers (95th percentile adult male) and 10 cubic feet of useful cargo space
Wheels: 4 or more wheels
Performance: 0-60 mph acceleration in less than 12 seconds, minimum top speed 100 mph, minimum range 200 miles, 60 - 0 MPH braking in no more than 170 feet, lateral acceleration (300-ft-dia skidpad) 0.70 g, 600 ft slalom (Motor Trend) speed 55 MPH, gradeability 55 MPH on a 7.5% grade, noise levels within drive-by standards (74 decibels max)
Features: Heater, air-conditioner, audio system, real-time eco-feedback display"

The allowable emissions must meet the strictest standards of not just the USA but the EU as well. They must also meet current safety and crash standards which are also quite rigourous and varied.

Essentially, the car that meets these standards in all of the markets specified and is being sold at or above the 10,000 units per year threshold will win. The prize is really just to celebrate and encourage what market forces would otherwise confirm as the best design.

I haven't come across how they're going to calculate EV emissions yet that would be fair to ICE's. They need to come up with a standard that is at least feasible for the majority of the market that could buy the vehicle. What I mean is that they need to provide efficiency and emission numbers for the powerplants that generate the electricity.

If anyone comes across this kind of detail, please post it.

litesong

Trevor...Since my mother, father, uncle, & brother(just last week) died prematurely from lung diseases due to smoking, I know smoking is worse than auto emissions. But you are sidetracking this auto pollution issue. But you must be made known of the studies that detail that mortality rates & lung diseases for children go way up the closer children live or go to school near major thoroughfares. Despite the use of wonderful technological miracles like 3-way catalytic converters, these studies still hold.
EVs generally get their power from generating sources far from people. ICEs generally give up their emissions near people. Soon may ICE die that living beings live long.

litesong

Jack...I did grow up. I want millions of kids to grow up too. May ICE die that people live.

jack

The prize is really just to celebrate and encourage what market forces would otherwise confirm as the best design.

Not according to their website:
"An X PRIZE is a multi-million dollar award given to the first team to achieve a specific goal, set by the X PRIZE Foundation, which has the potential to benefit humanity. Rather than awarding money to honor past achievements or directly funding research, an X PRIZE incites innovation by tapping into our competitive and entrepreneurial spirits."

Neil

The only perspective Jack is putting things in is a status quo American one. OK, so lets use that perspective for a minute. You guys are going bankrupt importing oil that's only going to get more and more expensive. One of the main reasons for this prize is to reduce oil consumption. To that end you have to give EVs the credit for the fact that they don't use any. Therefore in order to value each drive train appropriately for the purposes of the prize you have to grant them high mpg figures.

It's pretty tricky trying to calculate mpge for EVs when the energy sources can be diverse. If you run a car from renewable sources then efficiency becomes meaningless. The only yardsticks left are pollution and price. EVs can "fill up" for pennies a KWH and don't pollute. That's what this prize is about.

jmilner

I believe that by having the contest winner be the vehicle that can drive the fastest while obtaining at least 100 mpg misses the point. I suggested to them that the highest mpg vehicle that meets the other requirements should be the winner. I feel they have missed a great opportunity to move away from testosterone-laden performance claims and move towards transportation that meets the requirements of most drivers most of the time while moving away from our dependence on oil.

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