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Comments

Dion Damato

Mark,

It's good to know that the AXP is moving forward in drafting the rules.

However, I and presumably many other potential competitors may have one concern regarding the rules creation.

I see people from Honda, Subaru, Wrightspeed, Aeroviornmental, and Gale Banks Engineering on the energy equivalence rules committee. All of these organizations are potential competitors or have regular contact with potential competitors through their regular business relationships.

How does the AXP plan on alleviating the potential advantage over the rest of the pack, which has been gained by these companies taking part in drafting the rules. Will the rules include a clause stating, members of the rules committee and their affiliates are not allowed to participate?

Mark Goodstein

Good question, Dion. It's one we've fielded before and put a lot of thought into...the public release will have a section addressing exactly this point. There are two ways of dealing with conflict: avoid it all or invite as much as possible. We've opted for the latter route in order to get feedback from people and groups that are explicitly interested and involved (and impacted) by the rules. We certainly encounter bias, but we get to see a lot of it and we've been purposefully courting folks from all walks, as they say, in order to surface all of these biases--all the better to make informed choices.

Importantly, these advisors, whether official (http://auto.xprize.org/about/advisors.html) or those who come to our working groups, understand that point. Even more importantly, they don't decide for us...we take their feedback and opinions and make our own decisions. Moreover, as soon as the rules are released in April, we will disband the official Prize Development Advisory Board and reconstitute one that has no competitors on it.

So, in short...we've approached creating this competition by soliciting input from all sides of every stakeholder, from energy, regulators, environmental advocates, students to professionals, academics to mechanics, suppliers, manufacturers, start-ups and entrepreneurs. We have taken their input and put it through our own filter, so no individual or group would have undue influence on the structure of the rules. But it has been incredibly important for our process to understand the concerns of everyone, to understand the barriers to innovation, and to create an unbiased and technology-neutral competition that will enable anyone with a viable plan to compete.

Alexander Hamilton

So would VW win the prize if they were still selling the Lupo 3l in Europe?

Old press release here:
http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/press/Lupo_3L_in_Guiness_World_Record

Mark Goodstein

Great question. We won't know if any vehicle will "win' unless they enter and undergo the rigorous rules and testing that we're currently developing. We're announcing those rules soon.

We're interested in opening the doors to as many competitors that have the skill, imagination, and determination to attain a standard that has previously gone unmet.
We won't prejudge an entry but we will pre-qualify them all to ensure that only serious competitors are entered. So, please enter [smile]!

I'm not sure why this car isn't on the market now--our point is to see many super efficient cars that people actually want to buy...

Victor

As per the comment above, it's apparent that existing cars can be entered into this x-prize, but the one mentioned above apparently isn't on the market at this point.
I'd like to point out the Tesla. http://www.teslamotors.com

It's on sale now. It's as affordable for a nice sports car (~90k) - and it's as hot as one.

And it's fully electric, 135 mpg equivalant, with a 250 mile range. I can't see how it *wouldn't* win the xprize, considering it's out, taking orders, and street-legal. The fact that it looks awesome is just that much more reason to make me want one.

Mark Goodstein

A few points to make:
- I assure you that no team is close to winning this prize right now.
- Not to be snarky, but rather to be clear, Tesla is taking orders, not delivering cars. When they do, we will all pop bottles of bubbly.
- I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the companies we've heard tell us who to make the check out to. That's great! We like competition.
- Range, price, and fueling time all go into the calculus when it comes to this competition (not to mention a host of other things, like capacity, consumer features, etc.). We are on the verge of publishing the rules that govern this competition... When they come out, we expect to get an earful (okay, several) from partisans of every variety of power train and design. Again, bring it on.
- We want to see many options for consumers, from sporty two seaters and family cars that serve the needs of the middle of the market to pure electric and hybrid electric diesel (and yes, everything in between).
- In fact, we think they are all required.

Victor

no problem on being snarky. I'm not sure if you've looked into the Tesla, but I'm pretty certain they are delivering cars this year - having sold out of the first year's production, they are taking orders on 2008's production cycle. Looks like they are also gearing up for a $50k sedan for 2009. I realize it's not likely part of the rules for them to be already commercially *available* - simply that they be *viable*. They certainly already are on the road.

With all these cars 'already out there', and the mention of calculus - do you intend to do a kind of point system, then? Higher mpg entries gain more points for that, but the higher *effeciency* gets more points that way? Cheaper gets points, as well as likely time-to-market?
I hope that style is in there somewhere, too. As has been mentioned extremely many times through about as many different forums (and by that I mean media outlets), many people won't buy a car if it's uncomfortable, and/or looks like it.

I'm certain your group is much more well versed in all the aspects of this, and I'm really just conversing, and blowing off some of my steam - because I know I won't be getting a Tesla of my own any time soon. Regardless, I am very glad of the X prizes, and followed the entries in the race to space very closely. While this doesn't inspire the dreamer in me nearly as much, I still believe this is a very good thing for our society and world.

Good luck with rules, and I look forward to the coming months, years, and future X-prizes.

Josh Trutt

Some comments on Victor's questions... not only is Tesla not yet delivering vehicles, they also recently downgraded their miles-per-charge from I think 250 miles to 200 miles. Secondly, Victor says he "won't be getting one any time soon". Why? because they cost something like 100K? Or because they can only go 200 miles and then need to be recharged for many hours? For both those reasons, I think it would be ridiculous if the Tesla-- as currently priced and performing-- were to win. There are many other cars "taking orders" that seem better primed to win: the Zap-X, if it performs as they claim (a big "if") would crush the Tesla in this competition, because it is cheaper, recharges in ten minutes and holds 4 passengers. Partly for those reasons I think it is imperative that the rules and course be designed so that recharge/ refuel times are included in total race time. I personally prefer a "Cannonball Run" style event: You give them all a starting line on the east coast, a finish line on the west coast, and whoever gets there first, wins. This way if one car takes 3-4 hours to recharge every 250 miles, it will clearly lose to a car that recharges or refuels in ten minutes or less. And it SHOULD lose to such a car, for such a car is the one most people would buy... which is the point of this competition. Tesla should be disqualified from the start unless they can show that at 10,000 units it would be FAR cheaper than $100K. (They seem to be working on a sedan, the WhiteStar, which is supposed to be much cheaper than their roadster, so that one could perhaps qualify.) Personally I think $50K should be the upper limit at 10,000 units, to qualify. Otherwise, it is not a car that is going to change anything.
If "Cannonball Run" style does not work for whatever reason (though I think it would be incredibly exciting), then the cars should be sequestered between legs of the race, so that they can only be recharged during actual race time. (But then that may work against the battery-powered cars, which may lose power while sitting idle... another argument for "cannonball run" style.) I also think the cars should not be allowed to EXCEED 80 mph during the race. This would take some excitement out of it, but it would, again, make the main determinant of speed two things: how long can it run at 75-80mph, and how fast can it recharge/ refuel. These are the two things that will affect whether the car has a mainstream audience and can make a difference. (A speed limit may also save lives). The Tesla Roadster, currently cannot make a difference because it can't serve enough people, and thus it doesn't meet the stated point of this X-prize. But I applaud Tesla Motors and recognize that their second car may in fact be able to make a difference.
All the cars have to meet certain speed requirements just to enter (zero-60 in under 12 seconds, top speed minimum 100mph, etc). So speed during the race should be determined by recharge/refuel times as I stated above. And if two cars arrive within 15 mins of each other per thousand miles travelled (45 mins if it's a 3000 mile race), speed-wise it should be considered a "tie" and other factors should determine the winner: a 4 passenger vehicle should certainly win a tie over a two-passenger vehicle as far more people would buy it, and higher MPGe should obviously be worth something.

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