The $10 million in winnings for the Automotive X Prize competition can provide a welcome influx of cash for the DIY garage-based team, startup or even a more established automaker that builds the best 100 MPG car with a minimum 200-mile range, based on a number of tests and road trials. Today the competition itself has scored some funding of its own, in the form of an up to $5.5 million award from the Department of Energy.
According to the DOE’s announcement this morning, the $5.5 million for the X Prize Foundation comes from the agency’s pot of stimulus funds, and will help expand education and outreach efforts for the competition nationwide. The DOE also plans to provide technical expertise “to ensure that each of the competition designs is reviewed correctly and consistently.”
This isn’t the first time Washington has gotten giddy over the green car contest, which requires teams to submit a viable business plan for building 10,000 cars. The Senate passed a resolution last year praising the foundation for helping “break the addiction of the United States to oil and stem the effects of climate change.”
The DOE also awarded a nearly $3.5 million grant last year to help with the education and outreach component. At the time, then-Assistant Secretary Andy Karsner called it “one important way the Bush administration is leveraging private sector expertise to educate and engage the public about utilizing clean, cutting-edge technologies to transform our transportation sector.”
The Obama administration’s DOE can use similar language with a bit more cred, having finally doled out funding under a long-delayed green car manufacturing loan program, raised the bar on fuel efficiency for cars, and just handed out some $33 million for cutting-edge green vehicle tech development, among other things. Announcing today’s award, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said, “This funding will support cutting-edge, American innovation that can help us fundamentally transform personal transportation and address the global climate crisis.”