The idea behind the Automotive X-Prize was to prove that 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) is attainable in practical, daily-driver-type cars. And with competition moving into the final stage, 15 cars are still in the running. But how good are those cars actually? With only $10m in prize money, the X-Prize attracted few established OEMs to the competition, and as a result only a single car has made it through to the finals in the Mainstream class. This class was the main focus of the competition, as its requirement that each car “must seat at least four passengers, have four wheels, and have a minimum 200 mile range” meant Mainstream entries could be alternatives to “real cars.” Instead, the competition is being dominated by the “Alternative” class (two passengers, 100 miles range and any amount of wheels), which was included to open the competition smaller teams. And despite the fact that most of the entries had few restrictions on their designs, you might assume that they have performed impressively. The numbers, however, paint a very different picture.
Now, considering that these are mostly one-off prototypes assembled by small teams without the backing of a major OEM, these numbers are quite good. But as proof that electric cars are ready to take over for the internal combustion engine, the X-Prize is coming up short. On the other hand, the whole idea is that the $10m prize can be used to improve the designs based on experience from testing. In other words, we’re glad the X-Prize is happening, and it’s an important step in exploring a new generation of efficient automobiles, but don’t hold your breath for any of these cars to show up at a dealership anytime soon.