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The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Competition is Heating Up

06/13/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We're approximately six months from awarding up to $10 million in prize money in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, and the competition is heating up. In the beginning, more than 110 teams from 20 nations registered to compete. As of today, there are over 30 teams, representing over 40 vehicles and 10 countries that have passed the requirements set forth to date, and continue to prove their viability. Soon, they will all gather in Michigan to pit their technologies against one another. With our partner, Consumers Union, we'll place a significant focus on reliability, viability, safety and exceeding 100 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon or energy equivalent).

It's natural to ask if this competition will really produce a new and viable generation of green vehicles, especially given plans for the Volt and the Leaf. Our goal behind the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE is nothing less than a paradigm change. We want to demonstrate to the public that they "can have it all"... a car that is beautiful, affordable, safe, fast and, oh-by-the-way, also gets more than 100 MPGe. You don't have to settle. To accomplish this paradigm, it's important that we demonstrate not just one or two designs that can accomplish this audacious goal, but a new generation of manufacturable vehicles -- and vehicles that you and I will want to drive.

There's no doubt that the price of gas weighs on most consumers' minds when buying a vehicle. Moreover, it seems that owning a fuel efficient vehicle -- a Prius or otherwise -- conveys a certain message, whether owners want to admit it or not (and, in full disclosure, I myself own a Prius). It sends an eco-chic vibe indicating that the driver is more than a curbside recycler. Indeed, perhaps owning a fuel efficient vehicle is the new status symbol. Step aside oversized SUVs, and welcome in the more compact, earth-friendly wheels. Out with the luxurious and in with the parsimonious. What was once considered nerdy is now haute couture.

Compared to what I've seen from the teams competing in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, the Prius is a gas-guzzler. With a wide range of designs, features and performances, I'm confident there is a car to satisfy most everyone, from the racecar driver to the soccer mom. Each of these cars is clean and production capable. They are not concept cars, and they are not science projects. These are cars that can be affordably brought to market within the next several years.

So stand by for a lot of fun and widespread coverage as the competition heats up. For those who want to follow us, here is a top-level schedule:

April 29, 2010

  • Competition Opening Ceremony, Lansing, Mich.

April 26-May 7, 2010

  • Shakedown Stage, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI

June 20-30, 2010

  • Knockout Qualifying Stage, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI

July 19-30, 2010

  • Finals Stage, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI

August 1-21, 2010

  • Validation Stage, Argonne National Labs, Argonne, IL

September

  • Awards Ceremony (exact date and location to be announced)

The best part is, you'll actually be able to see these cars of tomorrow as they undergo testing at Michigan International Speedway. Please visit www.progressiveautoxprize.org for more information about these final competition events, vehicles and check back once the competition is underway for the opportunity to watch your favorite team's competition rounds via web cam and on a real time leader board.

I'm very much looking forward to getting behind the wheel of one of these amazing vehicles. Please join us as we work to make these breakthroughs a reality and help to bring you more fuel-efficient options.