Sooner or later, any comparison between vehicles comes down to this: it doesn’t matter how good it looks on paper, you’ve got to back that up with performance on the race track. So it goes for competitors vying for Progressive Insurance’s Automotive X Prize, a massive promotional effort to highlight alternative fuel and green car technology. The payout for the winners is a shared purse of $10 million, plus the international notoriety that will come with grabbing the title. We’ve previously told you about teams such as RaceAbout Association and OptaMotive, but there are a total of 32 teams in the competition. Some, like Tata Motors, have the full backing of a parent with deep pockets. Others, like RaceAbout and OptaMotive are working on shoestring budgets.
This week begins the shakedown testing at Michigan International Speedway, where teams have until May 7 to work the bugs out of their vehicles in a real-world environment. Knockout Qualifying is scheduled for June 20 to 28, and will determine the vehicles that best meet criteria for both performance and production ability. Winners of the second stage will compete in the Finals, scheduled for July 19 to 30. Once this phase has concluded, teams must undergo validation testing (the dreaded “teardown”) before winners are announced in August.