A few months back ( Saturday June 27, 2009 ) I took a trip to Illuminati Motor Works Media Day. At the time I didn’t really ask many questions. I just did my best to listen and to pay attention to what was going on around me. My intention was always to conduct an email interview with the team members. At the beginning of June I sent my questions. Since I hadn’t heard back in some time I sent out an email a few days ago to get an update. A little while later I was in possession of a full team interview. That is what you will be reading below.
My goal with the questions was to address many of the points the team made in regards to their car Seven during Media Day. I was hoping to have information in my interview that more traditional media always seems to glance over. Another goal was to hopefully have the team address some of my questions in regards to the future of car technology. It was also important to me that questions were asked specifically in regards to electric cars and the concerns the general public has in relation to charge times and mileage.
I think what follows will show that within this small team there are many diverse opinions. Even though they may not always be in full agreement the team is aware of the goal and the hurdles that need to be overcome to accomplish that task. A quick note that the Michelin Tire representative I was in contact with never bothered to get back to me with any information. I’d hoped they would see wisdom in supporting a small team from the heartland.
Hopefully readers will be able to tell that I really took some time when considering what questions to ask. There are a few others I’ve come up with since that I didn’t consider originally. Interestingly enough some of the questions didn’t get the answers I thought they would. For the safety question I expected to hear the G-forces turning you into liquid story. With their schedule I appreciate them taking time to answer the questions I presented. Guess I should have added a filter question so everyone could have read the McDonald’s straw story.
Here is comment from Kevin Smith then the interview.
Questions are answered in a round table format. Everyone answered questions on their own and I spliced them together. So, there’s some repetition however I think it gives a more unbiased collection of answers. Some of the info, i.e. personal data, was cut and paste from resume info submitted to XPRIZE.
1. Could you explain what the Automotive X PRIZE is trying to accomplish? As a competitor what are your goals?
The primary goal of the Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE is to inspire a new generation of super efficient vehicles that will help stem the tide of climate change while breaking our addiction to foreign oil.
As a competitor this is also one of our primary goals, in addition we are striving to put the American Dream back into the American Dream Machine. Who likes referring to their car as basic transport? It’s the car your just hoping dies opposed to the one you sat outside just to stare at as a teenager, the car that made our heart pump faster just hearing it start up. We are striving to bring back that emotional attachment we used to have with our car by bringing back styling and excitement without sacrificing fuel efficiency. In short, we intend to build a car to usher in a new gold age of the automobile.
I guess I have been more focused on the nuts and bolts of building the car, rather than the sociological impact such a car would create. To quote the Xprize foundation “The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is the latest effort from the X PRIZE Foundation. Our mission is to bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.” That about sums it up. Personally the many teams all working toward the same goal will come up with innovations to achieve success. If all of the innovations made could be put into the same vehicle it could be something truly awesome. The world’s auto makers have been building cars for a generation and have become set in their ways. The corporate structure is risk adverse to shift the paradigm you must take risk.