- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — The X Prize Foundation, best known for its competitions promoting space flights, is offering $10 million to the teams that can produce the most production-ready vehicles that get 100 miles per gallon or more.

The foundation was to announce the size of the purse and its sponsor, Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., today at the New York International Auto Show.

More than 60 teams from nine countries have signed up for the competition so far, including California electric carmakers Aptera Motors and Tesla Motors, German diesel carmaker Loremo and a team from Cornell University.

Teams will be able to sign up through mid-2008, when applicants will be narrowed to those who can prove they would build production-ready, consumer-friendly cars. Those who qualify will race their vehicles in cross-country races in 2009 and 2010 that will combine speed, distance, urban driving and overall performance.

The purse will be split between two categories: mainstream and alternative cars. Mainstream cars must carry four or more passengers and have climate control, an audio system and 10 cubic feet of cargo space. Alternative vehicles will be required to carry two or more passengers and five cubic feet of cargo.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based X Prize Foundation, which was founded in 1995, gained fame in 2004 when it awarded $10 million to the first private vehicle to fly into space.

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