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Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Announces Team of Automotive Experts to Lead Technical Operations for Competition

Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Announces Team of Automotive Experts to Lead Technical Operations for Competition

Automotive Experts will Lead Judging Process in Multimillion Dollar Competition for Super Fuel Efficient Vehicles

Playa Vista, CA. – August 6, 2009 – The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE, a multimillion dollar competition to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles, today announced the hire of six new team members who will lead technical operations for the competition. All six new hires will serve on the technical inspection and design judging team and will report to Bob Larsen, Senior Advisor, Technical Operations for the Prize. Under the direction of Larsen, who has spent his career in advanced propulsion systems, fuels, and vehicle competition operations and currently serves as Argonne National Laboratory’s Director Emeritus of the Center for Transportation Research, the group of new hires includes a mix of well respected and established names from the automotive and engineering industries. They include:

  • Steve Wesoloski – Senior Advisor, Deputy Technical Operations (Expertise in engineering and motorsports; most recently with GM Racing)
  • Don Taylor – Senior Advisor, Competition Rules (Expertise in ‘Green Racing’; formerly of the National Hot Rod Association)
  • P.T. Jones – Senior Advisor, Competition Operations (Senior Vehicle Systems Engineer, currently with Sentech, Inc.)
  • Jody Nelson – Senior Advisor, Energy Storage Technologies (Expertise in alternative and renewable energy technologies; formerly with Daimler AG and currently with BluEngineering)
  • Spencer Quong – Senior Advisor, Fueling & Advanced Vehicle Technologies (currently Chief Technology Officer with Quong & Associates, Inc.)
  • Dr. Jim Winkelman – Senior Advisor, Electronics & Advanced Propulsion Technologies (Electrical Engineer with 30+ years in developing advanced products at General Electric, Ford, Visteon and Plug Power)

Automotive expert Aaron Fyke, who currently serves as Director of Energy Prize Development for the X PRIZE Foundation, will also be contributing to the design judging effort. His extensive experience in automotive, alternative energy and manufacturing will be essential to evaluating the technical and business merit and commercial viability of Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE entrants.

“Adding this terrific pool of talent to the competition creates a robust and highly qualified judging panel for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE,” said Eric Cahill, Senior Director of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE.

The technical team is currently hard at work reviewing the 90+ Registered Teams’ business plans and vehicle data submissions. The Design Judging phase, as it is formally called, is the first competitive event in the competition. Teams must pass this critical phase in order to continue on as Qualified Teams that will compete in a rigorous and demanding series of vehicle challenges that begin with formal opening ceremonies next spring.

“The priority during this phase is to ensure that all teams understand the criteria, that entered vehicles meet or exceed the criteria, and that teams appear capable of building a production intent vehicle to these standards in time for formal vehicle challenges next spring,” noted Steve Wesoloski, newly appointed Senior Advisor, Deputy Technical Operations for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE.

The newly assembled team of automotive experts will work closely with each competing team to review their vehicle for safety and ensure its readiness for on-road competition events in the coming months. For complete bios on each of the technical team members, please visit here.

The goal of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE is to inspire a new generation of viable, super fuel-efficient vehicles that offer more consumer choices. Ten million dollars in prizes will be awarded to the teams that win a stage competition for clean, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 miles per gallon or energy equivalent (MPGe). The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will place a major focus on efficiency, safety, affordability, and the environment. It is about developing real, production-capable cars that consumers will want to buy, not science projects or concept cars. This progress is needed because today's oil consumption is unsustainable and because automotive emissions significantly contribute to global warming and climate change. For more information visit For related educational resources, please visit

Progressive, founded in 1937, is one of the country’s largest auto insurance groups and a leading insurer of motorcycles, recreation vehicles, boats, and commercial vehicles. The Company offers competitive rates and innovative products and services that meet drivers’ needs throughout their lifetimes as well as 24/7 online and in-person customer and claims service. One of Progressive’s Core Values is Excellence. To the Company’s more than 26,000 people, it simply means seeking constant improvement. Over time, this has meant introducing revolutionary ideas that make car insurance easier to shop for, buy and use. It’s this same innovative spirit that’s behind the Company’s sponsorship of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE will inspire innovation that will produce more fuel efficient vehicle choices, helping to make a difference in people’s lives. Progressive’s products and services are available locally through more than 30,000 independent insurance agencies in the U.S., online at, and by phone at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737).

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. In 2004, the Foundation captured the world’s attention when the Burt Rutan-led team, backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world’s first private spaceship to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for suborbital spaceflight. The Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. The Foundation, with the support of its partner, BT Global Services, is creating prizes in Space and Ocean Exploration, Life Sciences, Energy and Environment, Education and Global Development. The Foundation is widely recognized as a leader in fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit

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