Cornell 100+ MPG Team accelerates forward in $10 million Automotive X Prize competition

Cornell's 100+ MPG Team, building a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon, has leapt to the next level of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize Competition, which features a $10 million prize.

Cornell is now the lone university team in the Mainstream class of vehicles entered, contest officials announced Oct. 19. The 43 qualifying teams have entered a total of 53 vehicles, and Cornell will be judged against 27 of those vehicles. The remaining 25 vehicles will be judged separately in the Alternative class, which has fewer design constraints. The list was winnowed from 111 teams announced in April.

Redshift - the nickname for Cornell's car - is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with a diesel engine. It is built from a modified Subaru Sambar chassis and carries a 1.4 liter Volkswagen turbocharged direct injection (TDI) engine. With a completely electrical drive train, the car is powered by a lithium-ion battery pack that can be charged from a wall outlet or from a generator in the car.

According to competition rules, qualified teams have passed two major hurdles -- the registration process and design judging. The next phase of the contest will focus on technical qualifications, to begin in the spring of 2010.

The winners, to be announced in 2010, will share the $10 million prize, recognizing cars that achieve 100 miles to the gallon or equivalent and a business plan that describes how a company would manufacture and sell 10,000 cars.

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Blaine Friedlander