Officials for the Automotive X-Prize (AXP) challenge have announced that over 120 teams have signed a letter of intent to compete in the competition for the $10 million purse. Registration is now officially open for the X-Prize competition, which will involve a multi-phase series of tests and races to prove the soundness of the vehicles entered.

For this year’s challenge, the philanthropic foundation is focused on the automotive world with the goal being to build and race a commercially viable vehicle capable of meeting set emissions targets and be able to achieve at least 100mpg in fuel economy.

The competition is expected to travel through several major cities and will run during 2009 and 2010 to build up demand for the cars, one of which will be put into production. Some of the companies competing for the multi-million dollar price include Tesla Motors, Team Velozzi, ZAP Motors and Germany’s Loremo.

A further 200 or more teams are considering competing, including groups from the US, UK, Canada, Germany and Switzerland.

“The Progressive Automotive X PRIZE is bringing together some of the most inspiring and innovative minds in the world, in a shared effort to break America’s addiction to oil,” said Don Foley, the competition's executive director. “This competition has caught the attention of every major auto manufacturer, and we are confident that it will bring new visibility to a range of solutions, from both established and emerging sources.”

The competition will kick off in New York City in September, 2009, with a long-distance stage race that will effectively tour the country, proceeding through nine major markets along the way, requiring the vehicles to navigate highways, surface streets and urban environments. Registration for the competition closes January 1, 2009.