Remember the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize? We first covered the event back in January 2009. This global competition offered $10 million to manufacturers of the world’s first mass-produced vehicles to exceed 100 miles per gallon (mpg) and the winners were announced last week. They included:

  • $5 million to Edison2 for the Very Light Car, the Mainstream Class four-seat vehicle winner at 102.5 mpg, built by Oliver Kuttner, a commercial real estate developer, owner of Edison2 of Lynchburg, VA.
  • $2.5 million to publicly-traded Li-Ion Motors Wave II, the Alternative Side-by-Side Class winner at 187 mpg, built by Li-Ion Motors of Las Vegas
  • $2.5 million to X-Tracer, the Alternative Tandem Class winner at 187.6 mpg, built by Team Switzerland and Peraves, a Swiss company that builds a gasoline-powered version called Monotracer

Li-Ion Motors (OTCBB: LMCO, http://www.li-ionmotors.com), a smallcap company that engineers and designs emission-free, all-electric, high-speed, long-range automotive propulsion systems using advanced lithium ion battery technology (and also trades on the Frankfurt exchange), has its Wave II design featured on the cover of the September 2010 copy of Popular Mechanics. Its stock traded for more than $3 a year ago, dropped as low as $.50 in January and is now settled at about $1.

Other smallcap stocks that fit into this general category include Watertown, MA-based A123 Systems (Nasdaq: AONE, http://www.a123systems.com), a lithium ion battery and battery systems manufacturer featured on CNBC this week but panned by Jim Cramer, who suggested it was “too risky” a stock to recommend at this time. The stock has sold as high as $28.20 this year and as low as $6.32. It’s currently trading at about $9.33.

New York City-based Advanced Battery Technologies (Nasdaq: ABAT, http://www.abat.com.cn) manufactures a polymer lithium ion battery used in consumer products such as cellphones and PDAs but it also develops and makes various types of electric vehicles. It also has built a nicely profitable business in China which has prompted some investors to prefer it over A123 and another lithium-ion battery maker, New York City-based Ener1 (Nasdaq: HEV, http://www.ener1.com), two companies that have shown promise in the highly competitive lithium ion battery business but very little in actual contracts so far.

Like A123, Ener1 tends to regularly win government grants if not big contracts. The company this week announced a structural change into three separate segments with separate profit and loss centers: transportation, utility grid and small format products. The stock price has been generally declining over the past year, from nearly $8 to its current price at about $3.50.

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