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The Progressive XPRIZE wants to put green cars into high gear

Americans are certainly hungry for affordable fuel efficient cars as shown by frenzy over Nissan’s Leaf and Chevy’s Volt. But beyond a handful of other models, buyers don’t have a lot of other choices in the market. The Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE for super fuel-efficient cars aims to change the market through a rock-em sock-em competition for $10 million.

The idea for the prize is a little like an eco-version of the film Cannonball Run. Teams from around the world fight it out to see who has best production ready car that can hit 100 MPGe (miles per gallon or energy equivalent). Factors like range and safety standards would be measured in a battery of challenges in two categories. “Mainstream Class” vehicles have a 200 mile range, seat four people, and operate on four wheels. The smaller “Alternative Class” cars have a 100 mile range and seat at least two people.

One of the more interesting angles of the Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE are the varied backgrounds of the participating teams. Established companies like Aptera are in the hunt, but the contest’s structure makes sure that there’s still room for the team that doesn’t have the backing of a venture capital firm.

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