This year’s Automotive X-Prize competition made its official launch at the New York International Auto Show. The contest challenges teams from around the world to design and build ultra-efficient vehicles that are viable for the consumer market. So far, over 60 teams from nine countries have entered to compete for a prize purse of $10 million.

Each team’s goal is to bring to fruition a car that can achieve at least 100 miles per gallon or the energy equivalent, while meeting other important consumer criteria in the areas of pricepoint, capability, performance, and safety. The key is to create a breakthrough green vehicle that delivers on all fronts.

Those vehicles deemed viable for the broader market will then qualify to enter a number of speed and distance cross-country races in 2009 and 2010. Winners of the competition will be the ones that finish with the fastest times, while exceeding 100 miles per gallon.

The X-Prize Foundation is a nonprofit whose mission is to inspire the next-generation of technological advancements for the betterment of mankind. The Prize competition is supported by a wide array of sponsors ranging from the U.S. Department of Energy to the Sierra Club.