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The New York International Auto Show kicked off this morning and the folks behind the Automotive X Prize got things rolling by announcing that the payout for whomever comes up with the most viable 100+ mpg cars is a cool $10 million. Sponsored by Progressive Casualty […]

The New York International Auto Show kicked off this morning and the folks behind the Automotive X Prize got things rolling by announcing that the payout for whomever comes up with the most viable 100+ mpg cars is a cool $10 million. Sponsored by Progressive Casualty Insurance (an omen, perhaps?), the Auto X Prize already has 65 entrants including a number of electric vehicle startups, like Aptera and Tesla, in the race.

MDI

The teams will be competing in two separate categories. The “mainstream class” seeks high-efficiency cars with four wheels, four passengers and all of the conventional automotive amenities. The “alternative class” is billed as “an outlet for innovative ideas” with no limitations on design and functionality beyond the main tenets of 100 mpg and a 200-mile range. That one should see some wild cards.

One of the most buzzed about entrants is the compressed air-powered Air Car, which French automaker Motor Development International unveiled today at the show. MDI’S compressed air car can go 90 mph, seats six and still meets the 100 mpg qualification. And while the multimillion-dollar prize would surely be nice, MDI doesn’t need to worry about funding right now as they just signed a $30 million deal with Indian carmaker Tata to release the air car in 2008.

For many of the smaller groups, however, $10 million would be really significant. Several DIY garage-based teams have entered, as well as some relics from automotive history, including the man who brought the U.S. the Yugo. The long list of car entrepreneurs and ingénues reaffirms Clean Edge’s recent estimation that startups will be the ones to revolutionize the auto industry, leaving the lumbering automotive establishment in their low CO2 dust.

Even the Senate, the same body of legislators that bitched and moaned at every tenth of mpg added to the national CAFE standard, is getting excited about the Auto X Prize. The Senate passed a resolution praising the X PRIZE Foundation for helping “break the addiction of the United States to oil and stem the effects of climate change.” Our tax dollars at work.

Photo courtesy of Autoblog Green.

By Craig Rubens

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  1. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

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  2. What kind of autonomy that “air car” prototype has?

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  3. [...] for a technology that has yet to get a lot of traction throughout the world. In comparison the Auto X-Prize is offering $10 million for commercially viable green cars, and the Virgin Earth Challenge has put up $25 million for [...]

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  4. That Thing is UGLY!
    There is a really simple solution to gas prices, and the major car companies are finally starting the ball rolling. The answer = Hydrogen on Demand. Ford, BMW, Honda, and More are already rolling these out, but wait who wants to spend another $21,000. I want to drive my hummer and my mustang. And now I can. I got a easy to install Hydrogen On Demand Fuel kit from PASS, check out their website, it installed in an hour, and was 1/3 the cost of other HHO hydrogen on demand systems. I now am getting 42% better gas mileage in my hummer, and 38% more MPG in my mustang. See thier website. http://www.passonfuel.com

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