On March 20, the X Prize Foundation officially launched the Automotive X Prize and announced Progressive Insurance as its title sponsor for the prize purse, which will be set at $10 million. The Progressive Automotive X Prize is an international competition that challenges competitors to design, build and bring to market a car that exceeds 100 miles per gallon, or its energy equivalent fuel efficiency, while meeting market requirements for size, capability, affordability and safety. To date, more than 60 teams from nine countries have signed up to compete for the prize. Applications to compete for the prize will be taken until mid-year, at which time the applicants will go through a qualification process to confirm that their cars are production-capable and consumer-friendly.
The competition will be divided into two vehicle classes: mainstream and alternative. Mainstream vehicles must carry four or more passengers, have four or more wheels, and travel 200 miles or more without refueling. Alternative vehicles must carry two or more passengers, can have any number of wheels, and must travel 100 miles or more between refueling stops. The mainstream vehicle winner will take home a prize of $7.5 million, while the alternative vehicle winner will garner the remaining $2.5 million.
Qualifying cars will compete in cross-country stage races in 2009 and 2010, and the prize will go to the car that finishes fastest while meeting the fuel economy requirements and strict air emissions requirements. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the first stage of the 2009 cross-country race will start in New York City in September, and race officials will seek proposals for other cities to host additional stages of the race.