Carlsbad’s Aptera to Compete for $10 Million Automotive X Prize

11/19/08Follow @bvbigelow

Twenty-two teams of aspiring automakers, including Carlsbad-based Aptera, have registered so far to compete for $10 million in prizes offered as part of a “Great Race” to develop super fuel-efficient vehicles, the Progressive Automotive X Prize said today.

Aptera, which began development of a futuristic-looking three-wheel passenger car five years ago, is among the teams that have registered to compete in two dramatic, long-distance stage races scheduled for next year, X Prize spokeswoman Carrie Fox said. The $10 million purse is split between the alternative class and a mainstream class that requires entrants to operate cars with four-doors, 4-wheels and other basic features.

The contest is open to teams building vehicles that are capable of reaching the marketplace, not concept cars or science projects. That means each team must have a business plan that shows a capability for producing 10,000 vehicles, Fox said. Guidelines for the contest also include a new yardstick for measuring MPG, the miles per gallon standard that has been, um, distorted by the conventional auto industry. The new standard is MPGe—or miles per gallon equivalent—which summarizes a vehicle’s energy efficiency even if it’s not burning gasoline.
Aptera\'s three-wheel prototype gets 230 mpg
Aptera was founded about five years ago by Steve Fambro, who wanted to design and build a safe, comfortable passenger vehicle that was more fuel-efficient than anything on the road. The company, which says its first prototype gets 230 miles to the gallon, has raised about $24 million in venture funding from investors that include Idealab and Google.

Progressive Insurance gained naming rights for the Los Angeles-based Automotive X Prize by agreeing to put up the prize money, Fox said. Details about entries from the Pacific Northwest are available on Seattle Xconomy here.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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