Argonne National Laboratory Energy Engineering and Systems Analysis U.S. Department of Energy

EESA Success Stories

Auto X Prize Competition Validation

Argonne was the last stop for competitors in the 2010 Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize Competition. The contest challenged teams worldwide to construct vehicles that could achieve over 100 MPGe (miles per gallon or gasoline equivalent energy). Vehicles in the competition comprised a variety of configurations ranging from number of wheels (2 to 4), powertrains (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and combustion), and variety of fuels (biodiesel, diesel,
E85 gasoline, natural gas, and fuel/electric combinations). Researchers at Argonne evaluated the finalists’ vehicles to see if they met the competition’s performance and efficiency targets.

The Challenge
To devise a test procedure for validating the energy efficiency of a diverse group of vehicles that included hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric, and gasoline-powered vehicles. The tests had to be accurate, repeatable, and
not favor one powertrain scheme over another.

Auto X Prize Validation Testing at Argonne

Electric cars at smart grid charging stations outside Argonne’s Advanced Powertrain Research Facility (APRF).

The Solution
Researchers in Argonne’s Transportation Technology R&D Center:

  • Created robust procedures and redundant instrumentation that ensured no data would be lost and that data collected was accurate
  • Invented a way to safely tie down 2- and 3-wheeled cars onto the dynamometer
  • Created a safe battery charging procedure for early prototype vehicles

The Results
As well as evaluating the competition vehicles, Argonne learned:

  • How battery charger efficiency can offer significant advantages in the overall savings profile of electric vehicles
  • How to acquire coast-down matching data with electric motors
  • How drivers influence electric vehicle regeneration strategies

In addition, a large amount of unbiased data on advanced vehicle technologies was collected and will be made available for public use.

"The results of the X Prize competition comprise a gold mine of technical data that define this moment in the evolution of transportation technologies and allow comparisons between them," said principal project engineer Glenn Keller.


  • Poster: Auto X Prize Competition Validation (783 kB pdf)


Glenn Keller


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