BREAKING: Aptera Loses Automotive X-Prize, Li-Ion Motors Triumphant

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For the past few years, small and medium-sized automakers have looked towards the prestige of winning the Progressive Insurance Auto-X Prize. for the X-Prize.

Initially set up as a way of encouraging innovation and inspiring the next generation of fuel efficient vehicles, the Automotive X-Prize has slowly whittled the field of competitors down from over one hundred to just a handful. 

As the final phase of validation began last month, several electric vehicle teams remained hopeful about getting a piece of the $10 million prize fund. In return, they had to prove their vehicles capable of at least 100 miles-per-gallon equivalent, or MPGe, as well as pass a series of speed and handling tests. 

At a ceremony today in Washington DC, the winners of the three classes were announced, and two were indeed electric cars. 

The Li-Ion Motors Corp. "Wave II" won the $2.5 million Alternative Side-by-Side Class, and the Peraves X-Tracer "E-Tracer" was awarded another $2.5 million purse in the Alternative Tandem Class.

The Wave II "demonstrated outstanding low mechanical and aerodynamic drag" that resulted in a rating of 187 MPGe in its track and lab testing, 0-to-60-mph acceleration of 14. 7 seconds, and more than 100 miles of real-world range.

The tandem E-Tracer used two outrigger wheels to stabilize it at low speeds, and it led the competition with more than 200 MPGe. It provided more than 100 miles of range, and it had motorcycle-quick acceleration, hitting 60 mph from a standing start in just 6.6 seconds.

While it may look like a motorcycle, it uses similar powertrain technology (licensed from AC Propulsion) to two much better-known electric vehicles: the Tesla Roadster and the limited-production Mini E.

[For information on the Mainstream class winner, Edison2's Very Light Car, see our sister site,]

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Comments (14)
  1. Where is the pic of the Li-Ion Motors Corp vehical?

  2. @ James: see

  3. More Xprize stories in my in-the-trenches blog Scroll to the bottom to start the road trip.

  4. I can't believe they have a $100k plus price tag on the X-tracer, I'm sorry that's nutz. I wish Honda or Yamaha would quickly make one of these. People don't want to mess their hair, but they want the fun and gas mileage :-)

  5. It would seem that the writer is showing 'negative neutrality' towards Aptera and their "tadpole on wheels", which I happen to like.
    They are probably as close, if not much closer, as any of the other competitors to having a marketable product. So, sending positive press releases in face of the loss is a commerical necessity, sorry if the writer is not sympathetic. They came into the validation severely handicapped by the battery failure in the 100 mile cruise. So, I am curious as to how they faired in the lab test.

  6. David,
    Aptera may have a more marketable product than some of the other compeitors, but in the face of the compeition from mainstream automakers are facing an uphill struggle to bring the vehicle to market.
    At the end of the day costs will dictate market. And right now, I've not seen anything to indicate that the Aptera will be able to compete on cost with other EVs that are far more practical and better equipped.
    It's a sorry fact, but until Aptera can produce on price, quality and performance it will struggle alongside the mainstream automakers.

  7. I agree with David Layton, since Aptera's vehicle failed on the 100 mile final element at MIS, this event outcome was cited to be the "tie breaker" given more than one vehicle passed through all the laboratory testing final elements. Hence almost the only way Aptera could have "won" their division would have been to be the ONLY vehicle to clear all those final Chicago lab tests.
    Clearly that was NOT the case. I still have not seen details that summarize whether Aptera also did clear the "Chicago stage," so perhaps the WAVE II was the slam dunk winner as assessed by this protocol.
    Personally, I did get to MIS for the final public day of testing there and saw ALL the cars. I did not like the design details of the WAVE II, as it was way too claustrophobic to me. The Aptera is more production ready, and the announced pricing, if followed through, more purchase attractive. I also really like the RaceAbout 4 wheel design from Finland which passed all the MIS stage testing as well.

  8. David: I've read this author's other writings over the years and while she may have used a touch of humour in regards to the very un-mainstream shape of the Aptera, she puts a lot of effort into staying strictly neutral.
    Sadly it's near-impossible to make humourous references without offending someone. Such is the nature of humour.
    My articles are more biased and inappropriate compared to Nikki's more neutralised, investigative reporting.

  9. What I like about the Aptera (I am also a fan of the BMW Isetta and the Messerschmidt Kabin-roller) is that of all the competitors, is very likely going to be on the roads of California in the not too distant future. That to me would be the real win. Most of the other entrants were more 'lab rats' than actual products.
    If they can pop these out at $26K-ish, there is a product for the commuter & urban market (as were the Isetta and the Kabin-roller). The Volt, Karma and Tesla sedans are another segment and will cost around $50K.

  10. Shouldn't we be celebrating the simple fact that an electric car won the X prize? Why worry about the Aptera?

  11. Does anyone fine a bit of conflict of interest between the government and the winner? They seem to like converting products produced by companies that are owned by the government?
    As for and electric car winning, fine. But until the price is sub-$15K without subsidies, the industry and the product will never be viable.

  12. the National Geographic Channel has a 1 hour special about the Automotive X-prize, including the awards, rather surprising that they actually included that on the day of the award, usually takes them months to get a special to air.

  13. Kudos to the top 7 teams to make it to the finals. Boo to the author for saying any of them lost. As far as I am concerned, the Aptera is the most crash safety ready of the field as well as the closest to real production.

  14. li-ion motors Wave II looks brilliant.

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