Automotive X Prize: Shakedown continues with new competitors

Consumer Reports News: May 05, 2010 02:13 PM

The Automotive X Prize has begun the second shakedown week at Michigan International Speedway, with a new group of competitors going through technical inspections and testing, on their way to a $10 million prize. (The embedded video shows highlights from last week.)

The shakedown process puts the teams through a detailed vehicle inspection to ensure safety and rule conformity. If they do not pass, the teams can work through any flagged problems, then submit for a second inspection and/or appeal decisions during the week.

With passing marks, the teams progress on through a series of on-track challenges. For now, these tests, including three administered by Consumer Reports, enable the teams to take measure of their performance. They will have time to make further adjustments before the make-or-break Knockout Qualifying stage next month.

Consumer Reports engineers and an editor are at the Speedway now, conducting tests, meeting the teams, and reporting on these potential cars of the future. (See our special Auto X Prize section.)

The first stop is the inspection. Thus far, the teams that passed include:
  • Amp
  • FVT
  • OptaMotive
  • RaceAbout
  • Spira
  • Tata
  • X-Tracer (1 of 2 cars)
  • ZAP
Those who are "in review" include:
  • Cornell
  • Team EVI
  • Team FourSight
  • X-Tracer (1 of 2 cars)
Reports from the field show that the accident-avoidance test that create challenges for some teams last week has again proven to humble some teams. The three-wheeled Aptera car struggled with the test last week, so we were keenly interested to see how the Zap Alias would perform. Driven by racer Al Unser, Jr., the Alias passed without drama. More exciting was how the X-Tracer E-Tracer went through. Essentially a two-wheel vehicle with retractable outrigger wheels, the E-Tracer leaned so far on certain passes that it hit the top of a tall cone and another time scraped off a mirror, before straightening and completing the run. It passed, and did so with distinct, otherworldly style.

Other teams that have passed the handling test thus far include AMP, FVT, and Raceabout.

Follow our Auto X Prize coverage here in the Cars blog, as well as in our special Auto X Prize section and via Twitter @CRcars.

Jeff Bartlett

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