A Lynchburg-based research team, headed by Oliver Kuttner. a real estate developer, entrepreneur and race car driver, has won the Progressive X Car Competition top prize of $5 million for the development of a light-weight automobile capable of getting 100 miles per gallon, with a car prosaically named Very Light Car 98. At a Washington ceremony yesterday, Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th) joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other government officials in congratulating Kuttner's Edison2 team for their creation of a "mainstream" vehicle that got 102.5 miles per gallon. Two other teams split $5 million for building smaller, more futuristic vehicles.
Pelosi (D-CA) noted that the X Prize taps "into the potential of human ingenuity; creating a better world through competition; promoting innovation, and pursuing the common good." All of the winners are now eligible for a U.S. Department of Energy funding program to encourage the introduction of high-mileage vehicles into the U.S. market. (Hmmm. Must come from that GOP-hated stimulus money, being used here to promote innovation in a market economy. I guess that is what the GOP objects to...)
Kuttner's team of engineers plans to buy an empty factory and turn it into an incubator for super-light, efficient vehicle technology. If Kuttner has his way, that facility would be built in Central or Southside Virginia, possibly able to transform the region into a center for future large-scale manufacturing of the new vehicles.
"If we can get the design part right in Virginia, then I can see Virginia becoming the light car capital of maybe the world," he said.