It's very much down to the pointy-end for the remaining twelve teams in Progressive Automotive X PRIZE with the finals stage underway at the Michigan International Speedway. As we write this article teams are taking part in the critical range test where they must achieve 100 miles without charging or refueling (200 miles for the mainstream class) – perhaps the most challenging hurdle remaining for those still in the running for a share of the $10 million prize.
All of the twelve teams left standing after the knockout stage of the competition completed the required technical inspection for the Finals Stage before taking part in yesterday's Efficiency Event. During this test, the vehicles were required to follow a stipulated drive trace based on highway drive cycle tests which included acceleration, deceleration and speed (50 mph) requirements. Teams were required to achieve 100 mpg (or equivalent for electric vehicles) to stay in the running. Results are expected shortly, but in the meantime, all teams have been allowed to take part in today's range test.
Vehicles must complete the required range for their class at an average speed of 55 mph and must stop every 10 miles (or 5 laps of the 2 mile circuit) and accelerate back up to coasting speed. Vehicles cannot recharge or refuel during this session. Pitstops are allowed though these carry a penalty and no major work is allowed to be carried out on the vehicles.
Only one team – Edison 2 – remains in the mainstream class where it is running two of its E85-powered vehicles. Currently the vehicles are around three quarters of the way through the required 200-mile range and stand in good stead to take out the 5 million dollar purse on offer for this class of the competition.
Dynamic Safety and Combined Performance and Efficiency
Following today's range test, qualified vehicles will need to take part in two more mandatory events. The first is a Dynamic Safety Event which will take place on Monday. It is made up of acceleration (0-60 mph), braking and an accident avoidance test. The final event is a "Combined Performance and Efficiency Test" – basically a race which will allow teams to choose their own speed (between 45 and 70 mph) over an allotted distance. This event will be used to split teams who have passed all subsequent tests and therefore determine the outright winners.
UPDATE – Latest Results
Four of the 15 vehicles have not made it through the challenging first two days of the Finals Stage.
Official results released late yesterday show that the Amp team exceeded the maximum threshold of 200 grams per mile of CO2 in the Efficiency Event and fell agonizingly short of the required laps in the Range Event.
Other vehicles which have been eliminated are Commuter Cars' Tango, which did not meet the required fuel economy, CO2 efficiency or range. One of our favourites, Spira, also failed to meet the 90 MPGe fuel economy requirement and Tata withdrew due to a technical issue.
Congratulations to these teams for making it this far in an incredibly challenging competition. All other competitors have successfully passed the first two days testing.
Stay tuned for further updates as the Finals Stage continues next week.
A full list of current standings is available here.