100 MPG Equals $10 Million For X Prize Contestants - InformationWeek

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100 MPG Equals $10 Million For X Prize Contestants

Rocker Neil Young is among those vying to build the most fuel-efficient car.

More than 100 teams are vying for some of the $10 million being offered to winners of the Progressive Automotive X Prize competition next year.

Progressive Insurance announced Monday that 111 teams had registered and qualified in the first round of judging for a contest that will require cars to get more than 100 miles per gallon of fuel.

Twenty-five teams from the United States and 11 teams from other countries have proposed using 14 different sources of fuel and 136 cars. The teams, which formed around private automakers, startups, universities, and individual inventors, will be judged for their designs over the next several months. Those that make it through the screening process will begin to compete in a series of long-distance events in May 2010.

"We are thrilled with the wide variety of teams and technologies from around the world that are joining us in this competition," Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, said in a statement released Monday. "Being accepted as a Registered Team is a major milestone. This is also an exciting step for the foundation as we move closer to our goal of inspiring a new generation of real, clean, safe, and super fuel-efficient vehicles."

Rock star Neil Young is among those competing. He plans to drive his 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, which has been modified to increase fuel efficiency from 10 mph to more than 100 mpg. Young's development of the car is one of several projects the singer has engaged in to raise awareness about social, political, and environmental issues.

The Linc Volt is a hybrid vehicle that runs on gasoline or biofuels and uses a hydrogen generator to improve mileage. The car is about 20 feet long and weighs about 2.5 tons. Its fuel system is under development, with help from H-Line Conversions and UQM Technologies.

U.S. Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman said he's encouraged by the level of innovation and entrepreneurship in the race, as well as the work the teams are doing to help the United States make more efficient use of energy.

"It's also a positive response to many of the challenges confronting the U.S. auto industry," he said.

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