Questions about the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize

In response to my Auto X Prize Notebook description of the Edison2 Very Light Car, a reader asks, “I wonder how its lack of weight will impact snow driving? Thoughts on that?”

A. Depends on the snow’s heaviness.

Q. The Tecate Girls supported Indy racing. Who are the women supporting the Very Light Car’s primary driver Emanuele Pirro?

A. The Pirroettes.

Q. Is it true that Dos Equis beer of Mexico tried to beat out Progressive Insurance for Automotive X Prize title sponsorship?

A. The X Prize Foundation rejected their offer because it would’ve come up in Internet searches as the XX X Prize.

Q. Is it true that the Tata Motors team from India talked with the Hooters girls about a 12-month calendar?

A. A Hooters girl just doesn’t look right with a red dot on her forehead.

Q. Aptera is considering an internal combustion engine for its goofy three-wheeler. Does this indicate a concession that the electric version can’t make the equivalent of 100 mpg and win its share of the $10 million?

A. No. In early shakedown runs, the Aptera 2e was driven by Michigan native James “Lights Out” Toney, the heavyweight boxer. A switch to the electrifying 116-lb jockey Calvin Borel is in the works.

Q. Why isn’t the X Prize on Speed?

A. A sponsorship deal with the Xpedx trucking firm fell through.

Q. Does the Tango Commuter Car stand a chance?

A. The Tango tandem two-seater (not to be confused with the Twingo) could easily win Miss Congeniality because pageant judges have so often shown the predilection for contestants with 2000 pounds of ballast. Tango’s only hope for the overall title is if it’s hustled heroically through its paces by Helio Castroneves, who would consider the X Prize title the final jewel in an odd Triple Crown of championships including the Indianapolis 500 and “Dancing with the Stars.”   

Two Spira Tuk Tuks tuck into a corner, where one fervently hopes they'll stay.

Q. How about the Spira Tuk Tuk, which is made of foam and comes from Thailand?

A. This is the first self-guided FedEx package ever to enter an automotive competition. “Tuk Tuk” is Thai for “Tanning Bed.” Weighing in at 302 lb and powered by a 9-hp, 110-cc Yamaha engine, it looks like a genuine threat to crack the 100-mpg barrier. But don’t be surprised if the final technical inspection reveals this entry has used performance-enhancing surfactants, resulting in foam with illegal colloidal stability and, of course, also resulting in automatic disqualification.

Q. Will the Illumnati Seven, a shockingly large four-seater, have a chance in its class?

A. I saw the Seven in its primer-gray state, and that hideous gosling would’ve been judged defective by its mother and killed. It’s hard to say what the men of Illumnati Motor Works will get out of this battery-powered geexster. Reading their blog is a frightful experience, though. If they fuse wires together like the sentences of the following example, it’s trouble:

“We are basically self funded this has good and bad; how is this good you might ask?”

Or I might not. Use of “The Magnificent Seven” as the operation’s theme song is prohibited.


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