Fiona Harvey A blow to Britain’s racing green hopes

The automotive X-prize is one of the coolest technology competitions around.

The aim is to produce a low-emissions car that does not sacrifice performance, and can be mass-produced. The prize is $10m, to be awarded in September this year.

Dozens of companies and inventors are competing for the coveted prize, which is the latest effort from the X-prize Foundation, a philanthropic venture aiming to solve some of the world’s key technical problems by offering inventors the chance of glory.

However, the UK’s hopes of bagging the prize have suffered a blow this week with the announcement from Delta Motorsport that a fire at its Silverstone workshops have effectively ended its entry to the competition.

The fire destroyed the E-4 Coupe electric car, which Delta said was “capable of accelerating like a Porsche 911 Turbo and with a maximum speed of more than 100mph”.  The company had been granted  £235,000 from East Midlands Development Agency, and had planned to ship the car to the US in a few weeks, as one of the only European contenders to pass the preliminary tests.

The company is now hoping to rebuild the car, though this is unlikely to happen in time for the X-prize judging.