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$10 Million And 100 MPG: It's The Automotive X Competition

Thursday, 20 Mar 2008 | 10:51 AM ET
The VentureOne

Talk about an amazing race. More than 65 futuristic, but real cars, will be racing throughout 10 U.S. cities, with the winner getting $10 million dollars. Sounds incredible, and it could be.

It's the Automotive X prize competition which just signed on with Progressive Insurance providing $12.5 million dollars as the title sponsor. The idea is to show that there are innovative ways to power cars that can get the equivalent of 100 mpg with little or no emissions.

So far 65 teams from around the world have signed up with some unique wheels. The Air Car from a French design firm is a car powered by a compressed air engine. The Ale from a Canadian company is a three wheel batman-like ride that gets an estimated 92 mpg because the engine runs, in part, on gasoline fumes.

The VentureOne from Los Angeles is a three wheeled, tilting 2 seater that rides like a motorcycle. While all the vehicles are different, they share one common theme: alternative ways to power a car to 100 mpg.

That's a big reason Progressive signed on to become the title sponsor. The firm believes there is a hunger by the public to see new ways to get better gas mileage. Will we see any of these technologies in mainstream cars in the near future? Probably not.

But the X prize is all about spurring innovation. And that will definitely happen in this contest. The races start next year. The winner will be picked by the end of 2010. Like I said, what an amazing race!

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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