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Tata to enter super-efficient vehicle in Automotive X PRIZE

Tata Motors, India’s leading car company – and now with a UK interest since buying Jaguar and Land Rover – is entering the Automotive X PRIZE to create a super-efficient vehicle.

Tata Motors is now among more than 70 teams from 12 countries and 22 U.S. states who have signed a letter of intent to compete for a share of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE $10 million prize purse. The competition is designed to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles.

The independent and technology-neutral competition is open to teams from around the world that can design and build production-capable, 100 MPGe (miles per gallon energy equivalent) vehicles that people will want to buy and that meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance in one of two classes: Mainstream and Alternative. Mainstream vehicles will be required to carry four or more passengers, have four or more wheels, and allow for a 200-mile range. Alternative Class vehicles will be required to carry two or more passengers, have no constraints on the number of wheels, and allow for a 100-mile range.

Jonathan Etherington, Principal Engineer of Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC), will lead the Tata Motors team. Under Etherington’s direction, the team intends to enter a pure e-drive micro car into the Alternative Class and Dominant Electric Hybrid vehicle into the Mainstream Class.

Other recent entrants to the Letter of Intent programe include Motive Industries of Canada, Western Washington University, Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies, Inc. of Chicago, IL and TTW Turin Italy of Turin, Italy. Rock and Roll icon Neil Young also intends to enter his 1960 Lincoln Continental conversion into the competition, along with his partner Jonathan Goodwin.

The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is open to all – automakers large and small as well as innovators – who believe the goal of a 100 MPGe vehicle is not only possible but essential if we are to break our addiction to oil.

“We are so pleased that such a diverse group of competitors intends to compete for the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE,” noted Don Foley, Executive Director of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. “With the first stage race only 17 months away and the price of crude oil now hovering around $120 a barrel, consumer interest in the need for such a competition and a long term solution to fuel prices is rapidly growing.”

Beginning in September 2009, the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE will kick off a cross-country stage race in New York City, followed by nine other major markets throughout the U.S., in which competing vehicles will be tested and showcased in real world conditions. Organisers are now seeking cities to host the remaining stages of the competition.

Winners will be the vehicles that exceed 100 MPG equivalent, fall under strict emissions caps and finish in the fastest time. The competition is scheduled to conclude in 2010.

The goal of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices. Ten million dollars in prizes will be awarded to the teams that win a stage race for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPGe.

The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE will place a major focus on efficiency, safety, affordability, and the environment. It is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars. This progress is needed because today’s oil consumption is unsustainable and because automotive emissions significantly contribute to global warming and climate change.

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational non-profit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured world headlines when Burt Rutan, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private vehicle to space to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the $10 million Progressive Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation is creating prizes in five areas: Exploration (Space and Underwater), Life Sciences, Energy & Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognised as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition.

For more information visit the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE website .

UPDATE: Testing starts for Automotive X Prize