The X-prize Foundation first came to the attention of many people when it offered a $10 million prize for the first private spaceship to reach orbit, a prize that was won by Mojave Aerospace Ventures in 2004. Now the foundation is turning its considerable dollars and public awareness to inspire a breakthrough the rest of us earthbound folks can benefit from immediately; a car that gets 100 miles per gallon of gas, or its equivalent in another fuel.
The Automotive X contest, now in draft form but due to be officially announced in 2008, will reward the first to develop a street-legal, low-emission 100 mpg car that can be mass produced with a design that would appeal to the car-buying public. This rules out the bullet-shaped, casket-size entries that have won previous mileage competitions.
The success of Toyota's Prius should inspire the big auto makers to queue up to buy the winning design. That is, if they don't enter the contest themselves. Ford, for one, could use the $10 million.