The current Automotive X-Prize has set out the challenge of building and racing a commercially viable vehicle capable of meeting set emissions targets while achieving at least 100mpg in fuel economy. It’s the type of challenge you’d think at least one major carmaker would be interested in, but seems they’re all too busy with their own projects to get caught up with the whole contest.

The X-Prize group approached most of the major carmakers to either enter the comp or at least sponsor one of the 50 other teams competing but none have committed to the project. A key issue for carmakers, X-Prize organizer Donald Foley told Reuters, is the potential risk of losing to a small start-up.

Carmakers, on the other hand, claim they're already pursuing the right technology for their futures. GM said it was already involved in similar projects with Carnegie Mellon University and didn’t have time to partner with every group trying to create an ultra-efficient vehicle. Ford’s response is that it has its own fuel-saving technologies to worry about such as its new EcoBoost program.

X-Prize officials are still hoping for a big-name carmaker to join the competition but aren’t holding their breaths. "We would very much like them to participate, and over the last year we've talked to many OEMs and our view is we want their participation," Foley said. “We also understand that this is a decision for many of them that will involve a degree of risk."