Car Shows
SEMA 2009

2009 SEMA Show

Automotive X Prize
and Alternative fuel

Photos by Henry, Glenn & Jorgen Moller

While we don't have a 100 mile per gallon Mustang (just yet, hehe), we wanted to post this section of some cars that are all competing for a chance to win 10 million dollars.. Here are some photos of some Xprize cars and some other cars using alternative fuel technology. - MW


The first X Prize was announced in 1995, a $10 million award to the first non-governmental organization to achieve space flight in a reusable craft. It was won on October 4, 2004, by SpaceShipOne, built by Mojave Aerospace Ventures. Now the X Prize group has focused its attention on the need for mainstream, mass-produced cars capable of extraordinary fuel mileage.

While it isn't terribly hard to build a vehicle that will propel itself 100 miles on only a gallon of gas, the X Prize rules call for a car that can carry four adults and sip gas while traversing all kinds of terrain and negotiating real-world traffic. And the car builder must demonstrate that the vehicle can be profitably offered for sale in volumes of 10,000 units in a form that meets federal crash safety and emissions requirements. If this weren't enough, the competition really is a race, because the money goes to the fastest car that can do all of these things.

"Achieving 100 mpg? Any bright engineer can go do that," declares Chris Theodore, vice chairman of ASC Inc., who advised the X Prize committee. "But with the rules of cost and safety and desirability and functionality, it becomes much more challenging. I'm not sure the public appreciates how difficult it is."

That much is certain, if the X Prize group's own survey is accurate. The contest organizers conducted a poll and found that 52 percent of Americans believe there is a conspiracy between car manufacturers and oil companies to deprive consumers of technologies that produce high fuel economy.

No souped-up Prius with extra batteries is going to be successful in this contest, says S.M. Shahed, senior research fellow at Honeywell Turbo Technologies. "It will require a huge weight reduction," he notes. "You can't simply add more heavy batteries."

Maintaining safety in lightweight cars will be a challenge, Shahed acknowledges. But it can be met by having the car sacrifice itself to protect the occupants at a lower crash speed than is typical today. "If the price you have to pay for having a 100-mpg car is totaling the car at 25 mph, then I'm willing to pay that price," he says.

- Dan Carney



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