E85 vehicle wins $5 million for fuel efficiency

By Holly Jessen | August 27, 2010
Posted Sept. 17, 2010

An educational nonprofit prize organization and a car insurance company awarded an E85 vehicle the top monetary award in a super fuel-efficient vehicle competition. The E85 vehicle received $5 million on Sept. 16 while two battery electric vehicles were awarded $2.5 million each from the X PRIZE Foundation and Progressive Insurance.

The E85 vehicle was the mainstream class winner with a fuel economy of 102.5 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe). The Edison2 "Very Light Car #98" hailed from Charlottesville, Va. "Boasting the lowest drag coefficient of any car with four wheels tested in the GM wind tunnel and at the Chrysler Proving Grounds, this vehicle demonstrated over 100 MPGe on the test track, and verified in the lab, under stringent testing conditions using a highly innovative small displacement engine," the press release said. "Its low weight of just 830 pounds is a tribute to its use of light weight materials, reduced engine displacement and a host of other weight-saving innovations."

The Li-ion Motors Corp. of Mooresville, N.C., battery electric car has a fuel economy of 187 MPGe. It weighs 2,176 pounds and has a range of more than 100 miles in a real-world driving cycle. The alternative tandem class winner was the X-Tracer Team Switzerland from Winterthur, Switzerland, and has a fuel economy of 205.3 MPGe. At 1,436 pounds, this battery electric also has more than 100 miles in range and achieved a zero-to-60 mph acceleration time of just 6.6 seconds.

The three teams emerged from rigorous testing from 111 competing teams, representing 136 vehicle entries from around the world. The $10 million in prize money was awarded at the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., with a variety of award ceremony participants, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; Rep. Edward Markey, chairman of the House Energy and Environment Committee; Cathy Zoi, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and Sen. Mark Warner.

"Throughout our nation's history, our progress has been defined by the creativity of technological pioneers; by scientists and innovators willing to take risks, experiment, and chart new paths forward for the benefit of others," Pelosi said. "Today, the X PRIZE builds on that tradition. In inspiring teams of entrepreneurs, students, and engineers to build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow, you are revolutionizing the automotive industry and establishing the building blocks of green jobs and a clean energy economy."

The winning teams will go on to leverage their awards to bring their vehicles to the consumer market, the press release said. Qualified prize competitors will receive funding for access to test facilities through a U.S. DOE-funded technical assistance program. "We've seen a shift in the market since we first launched this competition, and a greater awareness by people everywhere to think more seriously about the actions we take, and how they affect our environment," said Peter Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation. "Gas mileage ranks as one of our top concerns when purchasing a new vehicle and I believe strongly that the innovations showcased throughout the life of this competition will continue to impact and improve our car buying options for the future."