One winner: Edison2 Very Light Car……..courtesy Automotive X Prize
The Automotive X Prize (or with its fully sponsored moniker: Progressive Automotive X Prize, where Progressive is an insurance company) was a contest with $10,000,000 in prizes to –first and foremost – demonstrate that a fully functional automobile (in a variety of categories) could travel more than 100 miles on a gallon of gasoline, or more accurately the electric powered equivalent – MPGe (metric translation: 160 kilometers on 3.8 liters of petrol).
After a rigorous, nay…grueling testing phase (races at the Michigan Speedway, inspection by Consumers Reports and the U.S. Department of Energy) three winners were announced September 16, 2010:
$5,000,000 – Mainstream Class, Edison2 Very Light Car, Charlottesville, Virginia USA, 103 MPGe.
$2,500,000 – Side by Side Class, Li-ion Motors Wave II, Mooresville, North Carolina, USA, 187 MPGe.
$2,500,000 – Tandem Class, X-Tracer E-Tracer, Uster, Switzerland, 197 MPGe.
Check out the details at the Progressive Automotive X Prize website.
None of these cars is ready for consumers. They all look ‘weird’. Right…and missing the point entirely. The contest and the winners make a statement: It is possible to have practical transportation that is many times more fuel efficient that what we currently drive. It doesn’t require yet-to-be-invented technology. We can build it now.
Unfortunately, the problem is attitude, our attitudes. We – meaning all vehicle operating people in countries all over the world – will need to lobotomize the automobile as-we-know-it cultural-personal-love-affair center of the brain. When it comes to transportation, we’d almost have to start over. These cars could not safely co-exist with the gas guzzling behemoths of today’s traffic. As one commenter put it: “Driving one of these on a freeway? I’d just as soon lie down in the middle of the road and wait for a truck.”
Are these the cars of the future? It could happen. Some say it must happen. When a gallon of gas costs $10, perhaps. Or when governments impose gas-use taxes like they do on cigarettes. Or when cars like these – plus some safety features – cost less than ‘regular’ cars. [Note: an infrastructure for recharging batteries also needs to exist.]
Seriously: These vehicles are more comfortable than mopeds. They beat using a bicycle for longer distances. These are realistic ‘town cars’ (as long as the town isn’t Los Angeles or Chicago, etc.). The world of transport is changing.