NEW YORK – Malcolm Bricklin, the perennial automotive innovator and founder of car companies, says he will compete for the multimillion-dollar X-Prize with a new sleek model he plans to offer in the U.S. before the end of 2010.

Previously, 31 other companies were invited to compete for the X Prize cup, which will be awarded to winners in two categories whose entries must achieve at least 100 mpg (2.4 L/100 km).

The Santa Monica, CA-based X Prize Foundation, which made headlines in 2004 when it awarded a $10 million prize to a company that flew the world’s first private aircraft into space, has said it would release final rules for the competition by year’s end.

Peter Diamandis, founder and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, joined Bricklin in a teleconference announcing Bricklin’s participation.

Diamandis has not yet announced the amount of prizes that will be awarded to the winners, but says they will be in the multimillion-dollar range. Previous reports indicate a top prize of $10 million is planned.

Diamandis says the contest aims to “change the paradigm of what people think they should and can drive.”

Bricklin says his car will be a plug-in hybrid-electric, fullsize luxury sedan with a targeted price of $35,000. The car will measure 205.0 ins. (520.7 cm) long, 57.0 ins. (144.8 cm) high and 78.0 ins. (198.1 cm) wide. Wheelbase will be 124.0 ins. (315.0 cm) and planned curb weight is 3,900 lbs. (1,769 kg).

The 5-passenger vehicle will accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 5.9 seconds and have a range of 850 miles (1,368 km), Bricklin promises.

Advanced lithium-ion batteries are the key to his planned car, which Bricklin says will provide a superior driving experience in addition to its lower fuel consumption and emissions.

The batteries will use an advanced cathode technology incorporating nanotechnology. This will provide shorter recharge time, longer cycle life and tolerate extreme temperatures, he says.

The batteries will be capable of recharging by plugging into a conventional 110- or 220-volt outlet.

Best of all, if the driver makes trips shorter than 40-50 miles (64-80 km), the expected range of the batteries between charges, the vehicle could operate indefinitely without using any gasoline.

The plug-in hybrid vehicle will be built by a Chinese manufacturer to be identified at a later date. The company Bricklin chairs, Visionary Vehicles LLC, will begin selling the sedan before the competition runoff, Bricklin promises.

Tesla Motors Inc. and ZAP are two of the 31 other companies that will compete for the X Prize.

One category calls for a traditional 4-seat, 4-wheel vehicle, such as the one Bricklin is developing. There also is a nontraditional category, which requires entries to have at least two seats and at least three wheels.

Diamandis says the vehicles can be powered by electricity, natural gas, methane or hydrogen. “We don’t know (what fuels will be used),” he says.

“The great thing about the Automotive X Prize is that we all win no matter who wins,” Bricklin says. “Any developments made through the competition will serve to drive the (auto) industry forward.”

The competition has brought “a lot of people out of the woodwork who have an interest in developing the kind of technology we need to save the world,” Bricklin adds.

“Our goal is to contribute anything we can to encourage people to enter the contest and help move the industry forward,” he says, promising to make parts of Visionary’s technology available to competitors. “(And) we would like to license new technological developments made by competitors.”