An old-fashioned gasoline engine has won the Progressive Automotive X Prize contest. The ultralight Edison2 Very Light is a four-seater and gets 102.5 mpg.

The purpose of the contest is to design mainstream cars that meet most functional requirements for typical drivers while delivering at least 100 miles per gallon.

The X Prize contest started 3 years ago with 111 teams and 136 vehicles. The prize was $10 million for the best production-capable car that can achieve 100 mpg or the energy equivalent. Each vehicle?s efficiency was measured at Michigan International Speedway on a chassis dynamometer.

Progressive Insurance awarded $5 million to the competition’s Mainstream Class (seats four) category winner and $2.5 million each to the two Alternative Class (seats two) winners, one with tandem seating and one with traditional side-by-side seating.

The $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize will be the subject of a one-hour special television event, ?X Prize Cars: Accelerating the Future?, on the National Geographic Channel on Thursday, September 16 at 9:00 PM Eastern time/Pacific time.

The Edison2 team, from Charlottesville, Virginia, won the $5 million mainstream class. They entered an aerodynamic vehicle which weighs less than 800 pounds and boasts a drag coefficient that is half of what is considered the best for today’s passenger cars.

The Edison2 Very Light car seats four people, can carry 10 cubic feet of luggage, has a 200-mile driving range, can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 15 seconds. Their Very Light car has a heater, air conditioner, and stereo system. The engine is a single cylinder, DOHC, and is Turbocharged. The Yamaha engine has a displacement of 250 cc, with an output of 40 horsepower and 29 ft lbs (foot-pounds) of torque, and runs on E85 ethanol fuel. Oliver Kuttner, the founder of Edison2, said his target price is $20,000.

Team driver Emanuele Pirro, who has five victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race to his credit, said ?The key factor of the car is the weight.?

Hybrids are in the 2,700 lb to 3,200 lb weight range. The team has also patented a compact front suspension, which includes feather-weight 6 lb wheels designed to act as force-absorbing, collapsible elements in a crash.

In the alternative side-by-side class, Li-ion Motors, from Mooresville, North Carolina, won $2.5 million prize with its Wave II vehicle. The battery-electric, front-wheel-drive, urban car was built on a lightweight aluminum chassis and weighs in at 2,176 pounds. Acceleration time is 14.7 seconds for zeroto-60 mph.

The Wave II uses a highly efficient battery package and aerodynamic features that enabled it to achieve 187 MPGe (miles per gallon energy equivalent) in on-track testing. The Wave II has an aerodynamic fiberglass two-seater with four fully-faired in wheels and a surprisingly spacious gull-wing trunk. The company claims the Wave II will have a range of 170 miles on an eight hour charge.

It is also planning a larger electric sports car called the Inizio.

In the alternative tandem seating class, the winner of a $2.5 million prize was X-Tracer Team from Winterthur, Switzerland with their e-Tracer. This tandem two-seat vehicle combines the best of motorcycles and automobiles. Their clever design has two extra outrigger wheels that deploy at low speed to stabilize the vehicle. Weighing in at 1,436 pounds, the e-Tracer can deliver just over 140 miles in range.

In combined on-track and laboratory fuel efficiency tests, e-Tracer led the competition with over 200 MPGe. The performance was just 6.6 seconds for zero-to-60 mph acceleration time. It is powered by 20 kwh (kilowatt hour) lithium-ion batteries and a 90-kw (kilowatt) electric motor. Team leader Roger Riedener says the company has sold 130 Monotracers powered by a 1200 cc BMW motorcycle engine. The e-Tracer is an electric conversion of that car.

This reporter really liked the RaceAbout from Finland competing in the side-by-side class. Sami Ruotsalainen, the Finnish team leader, said their entry is a hand-built, two-seat sports car, with a 32-kwh lithium-titanate battery pack and four electric motors with each motor driving one wheel.

Raceabout say the motors produce a combined 268 continuous horsepower and 496 horsepower for 10 seconds. Recharge time is about 5.5 to 6 hours.

The X Prize award ceremony was held in Washington DC on Thursday. Other vehicles that competed in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize were at the award ceremony. The vehicles on display included: Spira4U of Thailand; Commuter Cars? Tango of Spokane, Washington; amp?d Sky of Blue Ash, Ohio; Aptera 2e of San Diego, California; RaceAbout of Finland; TW4XP of Germany; Western Washington University?s Viking 45 of Bellingham, Washington; the ZAP Alias of Santa Rosa, California; the West Philly EVX of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Illuminati?s Seven of Springfield, Illinois.

Next week, BSN* will be covering more electric car announcements, Stay tuned …