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Seeking a car that gets 100 miles a gallon – April 1, 2007

This is related to global warming only in that most people that believe that humans are causing global warming blame our automobile pollution as the prime culprit. In this article, the X Prize Foundation is offering prize for the first automobile that is commercially viable that can travel 100 miles on a gallon of gasoline. This is a great effort, not only for the global warming issue but, more importantly, the reduction of harmful pollutants and the reduction on the US economy reliance on oil as a form of liquid fuel.

The same group that awarded $10 million to a team that built the first private spacecraft to leave the Earth’s atmosphere is expected on Monday to announce the rules for its automotive competition.

The group, the X Prize Foundation, says that the automotive contest, expected to carry a prize of more than $10 million, could have a significant effect on the automobile industry by speeding up efforts to use alternative fuels and reduce consumption. The average fuel economy of vehicles sold in the United States has remained nearly stagnant–around 20 miles a gallon–for decades. “The industry is stuck, and we think a prize is perfect to disrupt that dynamic,” said Mark Goodstein, executive director of the Automotive X Prize. “Failure is frowned upon in this industry, and that doesnt make for big advances. It makes for incrementalism.”

A General Motors spokeswoman, Susan Garavaglia, said the company had not determined its level of participation in the contest but would pay close attention to it.

Indeed, the organizers want to ensure that vehicles entered in the contest, which will compete in races in 2009 to determine the winner, are commercially viable. Entries must be production-ready, unlike many of the fantastical concept cars that are presented at auto shows. Each team must prepare a business plan for building at least 10,000 of the vehicles at a cost comparable to that of cars available now.

In fact, several cars have been built that could travel more than 100 miles on a gallon, but they were expensive and were used only for demonstration. “Building a one-off that can go 100 miles per gallon, I think any of the automakers could do that,” said James A. Croce, chief executive of NextEnergy, a nonprofit organization in Detroit that promotes alternative energy. “Its mass-producing them thats the problem.”

Read the article here.

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