CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Progressive Insurance has its name on the prize, a new international competition with a $10 million purse aimed at inspiring ultra fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly cars. Teams have until mid-2008 to enter -- and 64 from 9 nations have so far. But none are from Ohio, a state where the automotive industry is a pillar of the economy. At the moment, nobody has jumped at a chance for the money and the excitement it is intended to generate over new ideas, competition and racing for innovation in Ohio -- the home of the Wright Brothers and Thomas Edison, names synonymous with invention.
The X Prize Foundation put up the $10 million for suborbital spaceflight, a competition won by Burt Rutan in 2004. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was the patron then. Now -- in addition to the car -- the X Prize is offering $10 million for genome breakthroughs and the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize, which is spurring a space race to the moon and back. There are 13 entries from California, and only one from Michigan called "Michigan Vision."
Details about the Progressive Auto X Prize are here. Some of the guidelines for the competition say:
"The competition will comprise two vehicle classes: Mainstream and Alternative. Mainstream vehicles will be required to carry four or more passengers, have four or more wheels, and allow for a 200-mile range. Alternative-class vehicles will be required to carry two or more passengers, have no constraints on the number of wheels, and allow for a 100-mile range. All vehicles will need to meet requirements for performance and features to make the cars attractive to consumers. The competition will culminate with two dramatic long-distance stage races in 2009-2010 -- a Qualifying Race and the Grand Prize Final Race. . . . To win, vehicles must complete both races with the lowest overall time averaged over all scoring stages while still meeting the requirements for the 100 MPGe fuel economy and low emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants."