In the latest edition of the HuffPost Innovators series (check out previous editions here, here and here), we've compiled some of the most promising eco-friendly cars in the world. And, yes, they are fast. Very fast.
The seven vehicles below are all finalists in the $10 million Progressive Automotive Insurance X PRIZE. The X PRIZE Foundation is a Playa Vista, Calif.-based non-profit that organizes prizes and competitions to drive "radical breakthroughs" in technology and innovation. (The foundation recently challenged innovators to help solve the Gulf oil spill.)
The requirements? Each car must exceed a 100 mile-per-gallon fuel efficiency standard and can be fueled by any energy type, including gasoline, hydrogen or grid electricity The competition was held in several stages, including a lab-based series of tests and on-track stage. Judges evaluated each car on aspects like cost, fuel efficiency and design.
After eliminating all but seven of the 111 entrants, on September 16 in Washington, D.C. the X PRIZE Foundation will anoint one winner in the "mainstream class," which will receive $5 million, and the remaining funds will be split between the two winners of the alternative class of vehicles.
Which car is the most innovative? Check them out and vote for your favorite below.
(We are still looking for submissions to HuffPost's Innovators Series! To submit an innovative entrepreneur, startup or established company, click "ADD A SLIDE" below and upload a short description and picture of the founder or business leader you'd like to nominate. Note: Please skip the marketing jargon and keep your descriptions short. If your story is compelling, a HuffPost staffer will contact you to learn more about your story.)
Aptera (Playa, CA) Founder: Steve Fambro Vehicle Name: 2e Fuel Type: Electric Powertrain: BEV Class: Alternative (Side‐by‐Side) Aptera believes they've built a do-it-all electric car: their "2e" is slim and small, but strong and dominant. The car has a dent-resistant body that is three times stronger than steel, and it is capable of going from zero to 60 in under 10 seconds and reaching a top speed of 90 miles per hour. Steve Fambro is founder of Aptera, which launched in 2000 and is one of the fastest growing alternative energy companies in the U.S., and the company has secured funding from Idealab founder Bill Gross, among others. Fambro is determined to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil and believes that creating vehicles that use 10 times less energy than the average car is the first of many crucial steps.
X‐Tracer Team Switzerland (Uster, Switzerland) Team Lead: Roger Riedener Vehicle Name: E‐Tracer 7002 & E‐Tracer 7009 Fuel Type: Electric Powertrain: BEV Class: Alternative (2) (Tandem) The E-tracer, developed by the Switzerland-based X-Tracer team, boasts the best of two worlds: the safety of an automobile and the performance of a motorcycle. Originally created by former SwissAir jumbo jet pilot, Arnold Wagner, the first prototype was built in 1982 and called the Ecomobile. To make the vehicle street legal and helmet exempt on Swiss roads, Wagner fought the Swiss government in court for three years. By the early 1990s, officials approved the 145-mph-Ecomobile for sale in the European Union. In 2008, the second-generation Ecomobile, called the MonoTracer, was named one of Time magazine's best inventions of the year. Today, the team, which is now under the direction of Roger Riedener, has redesigned the model yet again. The E-tracer is a fully enclosed motorcycle that has three mini wheels that automatically pop out when the vehicle stops so the the driver doesn't have to put out his foot to stabilize the vehicle. Plus, the passenger can relax in a bucket-seat instead of hanging on to the motorist.
Edison2 (Charlottesville, VA) Team Leader: Oliver Kuttner Vehicle Name: Very Light Car Fuel Type: E85 Powertrain: ICE Class: Mainstream (2) & Alternative (2) (Side‐by‐Side & Alternative) At under 700 pounds, the Edison2 is all about efficiency and force management. The car takes just eight pounds of force to move and it gets 100 miles per gallon going 70 miles an hour. It can also stop in a split second because it has so little energy to dissipate. The 'visionary leader' of the Edison2 team, Oliver Kuttner, is a German-born entrepreneur whose company, Mass Management, specializes in weight reduction in vehicles and the development of lightweight auto parts.
Li‐Ion Motors (Charlotte, NC) Team Lead: Ron Cerven Vehicle Name: Wave2 Fuel Type: Electric Powertrain: BEV Class: Alternative (Side‐by‐Side) The fully electric Wave II has a single-speed transmission, a safe, steel-tubular aerodynamic body and runs on the team's proprietary lithium battery management system. With plenty of trunk space, the 4-door vehicle is also practical for the modern driver. North Carolina-based Li-Ion Motors, lead by Ron Cerven, is behind the automobile. The company focuses on converting everything -- from oil-fueled scooters to home kitchens -- into zero-emission, lithium-powered vehicles and facilities. They're not in the business of "selling" people on the idea of an electric vehicle, but rather showing them just how much fun they can have in electric cars.
TW4XP (Rosethal, Germany) Team Lead: Martin Möscheid Vehicle Name: TW4XP Fuel Type: Electric Powertrain: BEV + Human Class: Alternative (Side‐by‐Side) Instead of a steering wheel, the German-made TW4XP (which stands for "three wheeler for X-prize) has two connected side-sticks that drivers can use to control the vehicle, and instead of an oil-fueled motor, the hybrid electric car uses the inverter from a wind turbine to power the tiny automotive, which comes with the option of additional human pedal power. The designers, who call themselves the TWIKE team, have had some time to perfect the TW4XP, as they've been building light electric vehicles in limited-lot production since 1996. Upon hearing about the XPrize competition in 2007, the TWIKE team convened a meeting of the minds to discuss what would become one of XPrize's earliest contenders -- the TW4XP.
RaceAbout (Helsinki, Finland) Team Leader: Sami Ruotsalainen Vehicle Name: Electric‐RaceAbout Fuel Type: Electric Powertrain: BEV Class: Alternative (Side‐by‐Side) RaceAbout's team was established in 2001 and is made up of about 15 students from various disciplines and their faculty advisors, all from the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland. The university has been building prototype cars for 20 years, and this year they've built "one of the most powerful vehicles in the [XPrize] competition," with four electric motors (one for each of the car's four wheels) and aluminum-suspension breaks. The two-seater also takes just 10 minutes to charge up.
ZAP Electric Vehicles (Santa Rosa, CA) Team Lead: Gary Starr Vehicle Name: Alias Fuel Type: Electric Powertrain: BEV Class: Alternative (Side‐by‐Side) "100, 100, 100" were the targets of the Alias, and the ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) team says they've hit them. The three-wheeled electric two-seater has a top speed of 100 mph, a range of a little over 100 miles and at least a 100 miles-per-gallon equivalent. Gary Starr, ZAP's team leader, called it the Alias because, as he says, "the car can be anything you want it to be." ZAP's CEO, Steven Schneider, developed his interest in an electrically-powered lifestyle as a child growing up on a remote island off the coast of South America that had no electricity or running water. Schneider's parents moved the family there from Manhattan and eventually introduced the first motorized vehicles to the island. Schneider got his start as a car dealership salesman, and has since become one of the leading minds on fuel-efficient cars. With his help, Californa-based ZAP Vehicles was recently awarded a contract to supply the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a fleet of its popular Zaptruck XL, a versatile plug-in electric truck.