New book showcases four scrappy teams vying to make a car that doesn't run on gas
At the height of the recession, when Detroit was on thre brink of financial collapse and General Motors had gone bankrupt, people were saying Americans didn't make anything anymore. Whoever said that never met the resourceful, innovative and downright scrappy teams vying for the Automative X Prize, a $10 million bounty to anyone who could build a car that would run on anything but gas.
Author Jason Fagone shares the stories of four teams who competed in this challenge in his fascinating new book "Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America."
"For the past 50 years, the car has been exactly the same," Fagone explains in an interview on MSNBC. "It's essentially a heavy metal box that you smash through the air by the force of cheap gasoline. This contest was trying to blow that up."
The contest put out a call to inventors, entrepreneurs, students and hackers. People from all over the world came forward including a German man who was too large to fit into his own car as well as a team of West Philadelphia students who went further in the competition than teams from both MIT and Cornell.
"We have to broaden the idea of what the inventor is," Fagone says. "If you're a billionaire in this culture and you have a crazy idea, you're a genius. But if you're a normal person that has a crazy idea, you're just crazy. That is crazy. It means that we're not tapping the broad potential of our culture ... We all have these innate Promethean powers and we can harness them to create and we can design a country to unleash them."
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