Things are beginning to heat up in the race for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE, as the kick-off date for the actual on-the-road events approaches. The fun will begin April 26th in Michigan, continue through August, and culminate in a September awards presentation in Washington, DC. A number of the contenders were on hand at the Detroit Auto Show this week, where the official announcement was made.

The goal of the Automotive X PRIZE is to “inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices.” There is a total of $US10,000,000 in prize money available, but in order to win any of it, all vehicles must be clean-running and exceed 100mpg or energy equivalent. A staged series of events will take place throughout Michigan, to assess the real-world performance, efficiency and safety of each car. According to its website, the Automotive X PRIZE “is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars.”

With the design judging phase of the competition already over, there are now 51 vehicles from 41 teams competing. As the kick-off date approaches, Gizmag will be taking a closer look at some of the leading contenders.

This is not the first time most people have heard of the nonprofit X PRIZE Foundation. In 2004 it ran the Ansari X PRIZE for spacecraft, followed by the Archon X PRIZE for genomics, and the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Upcoming competitions will focus on space and ocean exploration, life sciences, energy and the environment, and education and global development.