The world's biggest car makers might be struggling but there's plenty of room at the bottom, with 111 amateur, university and start-up teams getting the go-ahead to compete in the next stage of the Automotive X prize for a practical ultra-fuel efficient automobile.
Having passed this first wave of judging, these teams now move one step closer to competing for their share of a $10 million (£6.8 million) prize purse that will be awarded to teams that win a rigorous long distance race and can exceed 100mpg equivalent fuel economy.
The 111 teams (six of which remain confidential) include entries from 11 different countries, including several British electric cars: from Delta Motorsport in Northants; Synergy Innovations Electric Mini in Guildford and Tata in Coventry.
Some cars go wee!
Overall, the 136 vehicles making it through to the next round use 14 different fuel sources, from the traditional (petrol, diesel) to the expected (electric, hybrid) to the more bizarre (urea, water, human power).
There are two classes of competition: one for four-wheeled cars capable of carrying four people over 200 miles, the other for smaller vehicles seating just two, and with a 100-mile range.
To put this in context, the plug-in, two-seater GM Segway Puma prototype unveiled yesterday has a 200mpg+ fuel efficiency but only a 35 mile range.
In the coming months, the X Prize teams will undergo design judging based on a detailed data submission package, which will provide information on their vehicle's features, production capability, safety and business plans.
Those that pass design judging will move into the performance testing phase and partake in a series of competition events that will begin as early as May 2010.
The winners will be announced in 2010, splitting the full prize, which has been provided by the Progressive Insurance company here in the US.
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