chevy voltThe X PRIZE Foundation, the organization that awarded the $10 million prize for a workable private spacecraft, is launching an Automotive X PRIZE for the team that can deliver a super-efficient vehicle that is mass-marketable and can exceed 100 miles per gallon…

Innovators were invited on Tuesday to read the draft guidelines for the contest that hopes to spark the manufacture of clean, efficient vehicles that will break our addiction to oil and stem the effects of climate change. With mainstream automakers mostly stuck in the 20–30 miles per gallon range, this represents a spur in the side of engineers and inventors alike.

The competition will stage a series of rigorous tests of all vehicles under real-world driving conditions. Vehicles will compete in two different categories — Mainstream (4+ passengers, 4+ wheels) and Alternative (2+ passengers, no requirement on number of wheels). X PRIZE winning vehicles must exceed 100 miles per gallon or its equivalent, while also meeting rigorous emission requirements.

"We are at a pivotal moment in time when promising new technologies, growing consumer demand, and global politics make it ripe for a radical breakthrough in the cars we drive," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation. "The X PRIZE Foundation firmly believes we need desirable, affordable, and fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Our addiction to oil is hurting consumers, undermining the economy, exacerbating international conflicts, damaging the environment, and threatening the health of the planet. We have made great progress in designing a competition that will capture the public’s imagination to solve these problems."

The competition guidelines include these provisions:

  • The AXP will be open to viable cars capable of reaching the marketplace, not concept cars or science projects
  • The international, independent competition will be open to multiple fuels and technologies
  • The guidelines introduce a new yardstick to replace the outdated MPG. The new standard is Miles per Gallon equivalent (MPGe), which takes into account energy equivalence, no matter what the energy source.

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