The handful of finalists still competing in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-PRIZE, or PIAXP, are closing in on the finish line.
It was announced in late July that the top contenders of the X-PRIZE, a $10 million competition to inspire a new generation of super fuel-efficient vehicles, has been whittled down to a group of nine finalist vehicles from just seven teams.
All seven teams recently survived the grueling on-track testing at Michigan International Speedway (MIS), and have moved on to a Validation stage before prize money will be awarded this September.
When the contest started more than two years ago, a field of 136 vehicles from 111 teams entered the race for the PIAXP. The teams have had to prove that they can meet the strictest requirements of this competition, including the ability to achieve at least 90 MPG on the way toward the ultimate 100 MPG requirement and to survive grueling dynamic safety and range tests. Some testing was done on-track, while some tests involved off-road driving.
Interestingly, the teams represent a wide variety of backgrounds that include emerging start-ups, entrepreneurs and universities from around the world. But all, according to Progressive Insurance, have proven that they can more than handle a variety of very difficult real-world scenarios.
“These finalists highlight true innovation in fuel efficiency, and prove that their vehicles have the ability to withstand strict safety, performance and emissions requirements. These cars redefine what is possible and set a new standard of efficiency that promises to revolutionize the industry,” Eric Cahill, senior director of the PIAXP, said about the contest that was launched with great fanfare in April 2008.
Officials from Progressive said that they believe many of these technologies will make it into future generations of vehicles and eventually into your repair shops.
“It’s clear that they (the finalists) are pushing the envelope in terms of automotive innovation,” said Brian Silva, Progressive’s chief marketing officer. “Their breakthroughs will spur greater choices in fuel-efficient cars that everyone can afford.”
Validation is the final technical event in the PIAXP. Finalists will undergo dynamometer testing under controlled laboratory conditions at Argonne National Lab facilities. The car in each of the various classes that exceeds 100 MPG, meets the emissions and performance requirements, and, in the case of a tie, completes the Combined Performance and Efficiency challenge with the fastest time will win. The $10 million prize purse will be presented at an award ceremony on Sept. 16, in Washington, DC.
For more information, to check the standings and to view the finalist team vehicles, visit www.xprize.org.