The ZAP Alias Electric Car

Nothing happens unless first a dream – Carl Sandberg

$2.5 Mil Progressive Insurance Auto X Prize Accelerating Alias

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Durability Test Shakedown

Three electric cars at the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE durability shakedown course today, the ZAP Alias, AMP Sky, and Raceabout

Team ZAP Alias has been asked this question a lot lately — what would it do with the $2.5 million dollar prize money if it won the side-by-side Alternative Class of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE (PIAXP)?  It’s a hypothetical question at best, and when you ask a hypothetical question, you’ll usually get a hypothetical answer.

But somehow taking a trip to Tahiti, giving everyone raises after grueling 18 hour days, or paying off all our bills, somehow falls flat.  Why?  It is WAY too early to start thinking about winning.  The Alias hasn’t even completed the Shakedown stage and still has yet to qualify for the Knock-Out Stage (June 20-28), not to mention the Finals (July 2010, Date TBD).

Many who are attracted to the Alias’s stunning design and learn about PIAXP don’t realize that this isn’t a beauty contest.  For PIAXP, it’s what’s inside that counts.  The rigorous driving courses for durability, acceleration, braking, dynamic stability, lane-changing, efficiency and more will challenge every aspect of every vehicle.  Looks may be the Alias’ strongest point, but it won’t count one iota towards victory.  This is a contest pitting vehicles against one-another for efficiency, emissions, performance, safety and manufacturability.

And have you seen the competition?  The field has narrowed down to 28 teams with 36 vehicles, 13 vehicles in our class alone.  If we were only doing this for the money we might have entered the mainstream class where there are 13 vehicles competing for double the prize money, $5 million.  Or, we might be much better off joining the 8 vehicles competing for the $2.5 million prize in the Tandem class, much better odds by far.

The PIAXP is still anybody’s race.  Each team is bringing a different approach to the competition and at this point any one of them could take home the prize.  None of them would have made it this far after so many years if they didn’t have some innovation that gives them a competitive edge.  Feel free to look over our competition for the $2.5 million and you will see what we mean.

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE

Side-by-side Alternative Class

  1. Amp
  2. Aptera
  3. Edison2
  4. Envera
  5. Optamotive
  6. Raceabout Electric
  7. Tata Motors
  8. Team EVI
  9. Team EVX
  10. TW4XP
  11. West Philly EVX
  12. Western Washington University
  13. ZAP Alias

If you have been following ZAP since 2007 you would know that the company has been committed to building the Alias since before the PIAXP was announced.  A freeway capable vehicle has been a dream of ours for a long time, since 2002, but for some of us much longer.  The competition itself mirrors our philosophy of commercializing electric cars and plays right into our competitive strengths:  1) a three-wheeled approach for greater efficiency, lower production and purchase cost, as well as excellent handling; 2) lithium battery technology, which helps fill the performance demands for a larger number of consumers of freeway speeds and a 100-mile range; and 3) lightweight composite and aluminum safety cage construction, which helps with performance, efficiency and safety.

One of the best opportunities of the PIAXP is the competition itself, which brings an unprecedented visibility to high MPG innovations that will help lead the industry into the future.  In a way it has already helped us accomplish our goals, having signed an agreement this year with Zhejiang Jonway Automobile Co. Ltd to manufacture the Alias in China.  The $2.5 million would be the perfect jolt to accelerate the start of production on the Alias sooner, rather than later.  Perhaps it will attract other forms of financing and expand production opportunities in the United States.

Another positive thing to come out of competing in the PIAXP is attracting an amazing team with diverse backgrounds, from roller coaster building, to race car building, to rocket designing, to race car driving.  We have members from Sri Lanka, India, China, France, and even Detroit.  We love meeting other teams, wish them equal luck and hope many of us can work together in the future.  So, in the end a 1-13 chance of winning $2.5 million is better than the lottery, but at ZAP we are confidant that we can come out a winner even if we don’t win the PIAXP.

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