Very Light Car carries off X Prize

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Edison2 team clearly put more effort into designing its fuel-efficient car than it did coming up with the name, and it's paid off: the Very Light Car No 98 has earned its designers $5 million from the X Foundation.

The Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize was announced in 2008 to spur the development of a new generation of viable, safe vehicles that could achieve 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent (MPGe).

The winning car runs on a gasoline/ethanol mix, and hit 102.5MPGe in tests. It weights just 830 pounds, and was found to have the lowest drag coefficient of any four-wheeled car ever tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds.

Winning $2.5 million was Li-ion Motors' electric vehicle, Wave II, which managed 187MPGe. The side-by-side two-seat battery electric car weighs 2,176 pounds, despite the weight of its lithium ion batteries. It can accelerate from 0-60mph in just 14.7 seconds and had a range of over 100 miles in a real-world driving cycle.

The other $2.5 million prize went to X-Tracer Team Switzerland's E-Tracer #79, which managed an astonishing 205.3 MPGe. The tandem, two-seat electric vehicle has two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. At 1,436 pounds, the E-Tracer is able to deliver over 100 miles in range, and managed to accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 6.6 seconds.

"We’ve seen a shift in the market since we first launched this competition, and a greater awareness by people everywhere to think more seriously about the actions we take, and how they affect our environment," said Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation.

"Gas mileage ranks as one of our top concerns when purchasing a new vehicle and I believe strongly that the innovations showcased throughout the life of this competition will continue to impact and improve our car buying options for the future."

Diamandis hopes that the cars will be more than just a novelty. The winning teams will now start working to get their vehicles out into the consumer market.

"Congratulations to the winners and to all the teams who competed over the course of this competition. Their innovations and hard work are truly inspirational," said Progressive Insurance president and CEO Glenn Renwick.

"We’re extremely proud to support a competition that will result in more super fuel-efficient vehicle choices; choices that will make people’s lives better."