At a ceremony this morning in Washington, DC, the winners of the US$10 million Automotive X-PRIZE were announced. Not surprisingly to those of us who have been following the competition, the winner of the $5 million Mainstream class prize was Virginia’s Edison2 team, with their four-seater combustion-engined Very Light Car #98. When we were taking in the Finals stage of the competition at the Michigan International Speedway in July, it became obvious by the end of the stage that Edison2 would be receiving some of the prize purse today. Sharing in that loot were the winners of the Alternative class: Switzerland’s X-Tracer team took home $2.5 million for their electric E-Tracer #79 in the Tandem sub-class, while North Carolina’s Li-ion Motors received the other 2.5 for their electric Wave2 in the Side-by-Side sub-class.
Edison2’s 830-lb (376.48-kg) ethanol-powered Very Light Car attained a fuel economy of 102.5MPGe (US miles-per-gallon equivalent) or 2.29L/100km, while also meeting the 200-mile (321.87-km) range requirement and four-passenger capability for the Mainstream class. Not only is the car very lightweight, but it also had the lowest drag coefficient of any of the four-wheeled vehicles tested in the competition.
“The journey has been one that completely departed from where we thought we were going to end up,” stated team leader Oliver Kuttner. “We really thought we had a lot of knowledge, and we learned what we didn’t know. And today there are times when we watch people and we read headline stories, and we realize that there are people who don’t know, who are going to spend millions of dollars, who may call us in two years.”
In the Alternative class, vehicles had to “only” attain a 100-mile (160.93-kilometer) range, and be capable of carrying two passengers. The X-Tracer team managed 187.6MPGe (1.25L/100km) with their electric 1,436-lb (651.36-kg) E-Tracer, which is based on the already commercially-available Monotracer fully-enclosed, outrigger-wheel-equipped motorcycle.
“Our claims are no longer just claims, they’re now official statements,” said team leader Felix Wagner. “As your President Kennedy said 50 years ago when he announced that the USA would put a man on the moon within ten years, ‘We chose to do it not because it was easy, but because it was hard.’” He added that consumers should be able to buy an exact copy of the E-Tracer used in the competition within a year.
“This competition has elevated the Wave2 to a much higher level than what we first had entered,” stated team leader Ron Cerven. “We were able to dig deeper and obtain far better performance than what we had initially.”