Monday, September 20, 2010

Automotive X-Prize under-delivers

You have to wonder what the folks at the Progressive Automotive X-Prize were thinking.

These are the folks that were offering a $10 million prize for the company that could develop a four seat car that can get 100 miles to the gallon, with a design people would buy.
(Image: Is this the new family car? A couple of models presented by X-Prize victor Edison2. Credit: Progressive Automotive X-Prize)

We have given their project a fair amount of coverage at RaisingIslands. You can search our archives for those stories. Here is our piece on the finalists.

They did a lots of testing and calculating. They decided, unfortunately, to split the prize--only half would go to the four seater, and the other half would be so split between two-seaters with side-by-side seating and tandem seating.

They gave one of the latter to a teardrop-shaped thing that is very aerodynamic and unlikely to go mainstream, the Li-ion Motors “Wave II.” And the other went to a covered motorcycle with training wheels that deploy at slow speed, the Peraves X-Tracer “E-Tracer.”

Sigh. Both are electric, which is cool. Both got in the neighborhood of the equivalent of 200 miles to the gallon, which is way cool. But these things are not going to move us into the brave new energy future. Neither will be the family car.

Which was the point, we thought, of the X-Prize competition.

Finally, we have the $5 million main class winner. This would be the one that would rock the world, right?


The prize went to Edison2's Very Light Car, which has detached wheels, like a go-cart with cowlings. It got 102 miles to the gallon with a quarter-liter, 40-horse engine running 85 percent ethanol and the rest gasoline.

Chances are, you are not going to drive this thing to the supermarket, or use it to carpool the kids to school.

Progressive Insurance is to be congratulated for the effort, which brought a lot of attention to the field of energy efficient vehicles, and did credit to the company.

We kind of wish they’d stuck with the original plan, which we understood to be a goal of providing the world with a vision of an automobile that was hyper-efficient, and wouldn’t look so much like a kit car in someone’s garage.

The efficiency of the electric models is tantalizing, and one wonders whether an electric four seater with traditional styling might have actually met the requirements of the X-Prize.

Ó Jan TenBruggencate

1 comment:

Ken Stokes said...

Right UR laddie! Couldn't help feeling thoroughly underwhelmed by this outcome, not least because some fascinating entrants didn't make the cut.