Today Progressive Insurance will announce the finalists for its Automotive X PRIZE. A modern day, environmentally conscious "great race" with teams competing for $10 million dollars. The catch: the teams will be racing cars they've designed and built that get the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon.
There are a some different categories in the X Prize. For example, established auto makers will compete in one category, while small, independent "teams" compete in another.
It's that second category that I find fascinating. These are the experimental car builders who are trying new ideas and approaches to building cars running on alternative fuel sources.
The beauty of the X prize is that it highlights a growing, but largely overlooked segment of inventors and entrepreneurs who are building cars that do not run on gas or diesel. These are folks experimenting with batteries, ethanol, even algae as the fuel to power our cars ad trucks.
Many in the auto industry scoff at these inventors. In their opinion, these experimental cars are quaint, but will have no impact on the future of cars and trucks.
The fact is, this great race for the future of powering our vehicles is one of the most fascinating stories in the auto industry. It won't be won overnight, nor will it be clear when it ends. But the X prize shows us the ingenuity of those pushing the industry to grow green.
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