Not content with having built the world's most inexpensive car, Tata Motors is now keen to manufacture the world's most fuel-efficient car as well. That explains why India's largest automobile manufacturer has become the first entity from this country to enter an international contest to build a vehicle that would not only extremely fuel-efficient, but commercially viable as well.
In a press release by the organizer, New York-based insurer Progressive Automotive has announced that Tata Motors Limited has signed an official letter of intent to compete in the $10-million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, joining more than 70 groups from around the world to create commercially viable, safe and super fuel-efficient vehicles.
The independent and technology-neutral competition is open to teams from around the world to design and build production-capable, 100 miles per gallon energy equivalent (MPGe) vehicles that people will want to buy and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance in one of two 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. (See: $10 million X PRIZE for the best, fuel-efficient car on the planet)
Jonathan Etherington, principal engineer of the UK-based Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC), will lead the Tata Motors team. Under Etherington's direction, the team intends to enter a pure e-drive micro car into the Alternative class and Dominant Electric Hybrid vehicle into the Mainstream Class.
Other recent entrants to the programme include Motive Industries of Canada, Western Washington University, Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc. of Chicago, IL and TTW Turin Italy of Turin, Italy. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young also intends to enter his 1960 Lincoln Continental conversion into the competition, along with his partner Jonathan Goodwin.
The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is open to all automakers, large and small as well as innovators, who believe the goal of a 100 MPGe vehicle is not only possible but also essential if we are to break our addiction to oil.
"We are so pleased that such a diverse group of competitors intends to compete for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE," noted Don Foley, executive director of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. "With the first stage race only 17 months away and the price of crude oil now hovering around $120 a barrel, consumer interest in the need for such a competition and a long-term solution to fuel prices is rapidly growing."
Beginning in September 2009, the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE will kick off a cross-country stage race in New York City, followed by nine other major markets throughout the US, in which competing vehicles will be tested and showcased in real world conditions. Organizers are now seeking cities to host the remaining stages of the competition.
Winners will be the vehicles that exceed 100-MPG equivalent, fall under strict emissions caps and finish in the fastest time. The competition is scheduled to conclude in 2010.
The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE.
The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating prizes in five areas: Exploration (Space and Underwater), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition.
Progressive, founded in 1937, is a leading insurer of cars, motorcycles, recreation vehicles, boats, personal watercraft and commercial vehicles. The company offers competitive rates and products that meet drivers' needs throughout their lifetimes as well as 24/7 online and in-person customer and claims service.
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