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Competition Shows Off Super Fuel-Efficient Automobiles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


Competition Shows Off Super Fuel-Efficient Automobiles

Elizabeth Lee
Voice of America
September 16, 2010

Video Version  5,461KB Windows Video (WMV)

Three teams won a combined $10 million prize Thursday in the U.S. competition to build a new generation of super fuel-efficient cars. The winners all exceeded 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent The cars were unveiled to the public at an awards ceremony in Washington.

This is a glimpse of what the future may look like.

E-Tracer 7009 The tandem two-seater electric vehicle by X-Tracer Team Switzerland was the winner in its class of the Progressive Automotive X Prize
VOA photo by Elizabeth Lee
View photo of E-Tracer 7009, 31KB

"The goal is to have a very affordable, very economical to operate, but still a very dependable vehicle, said Ron Cerven, who built one of the cars with his Li-ion Motors team.

It is one of a 136 vehicles from around the world that competed for the $10 million prize. The objective: design a car that is fuel-efficient, safe, environmentally friendly and affordable.

Brad Jaeger of the team Edison2 said, "To have an impact on the world, the car not only has to be more efficient and get fuel milage, it has to be cheap."

After going through rigorous testing, the competitors were narrowed down to a few - showcased in Washington. The top three cars share the big prize. Ron Cerven says it's hard to believe his team won the prize.

"It's two years worth of work summed up in a day. I just don't think you can do it. I think it'll take longer than that to kind of get the feel for what we did here," he said.

Cerven says his team's two-seater is all electric and can drive 150 miles before it needs to be recharged. The price tag to charge up the battery, just over one dollar.

The car costs under $40,000.

This two person vehicle is also getting part of the prize money. It's Swiss-made, by the team X-Tracer. It has a motorcycle engine, runs on a battery, and will be ready for commercial production within the year. It costs under $100,000.

The rest of the prize money goes to Edison2, the only winner with a four-passenger car. Unlike the other two vehicles, this one runs mostly on ethanol and costs about $20,000.

Brad Jaeger says it doesn't matter what powers the car, it's the structure and design that make it efficient.

"When a car gets this light it truly just becomes an extension of your body," he said.

The winners are looking for investors. Their goal: to turn these cars of the future into vehicles people can drive today.

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