Tata Motors Ltd. joins more than 70 teams in the $10 million Automotive X Prize competition.

The X Prize Foundation says entrants from 12 countries and 22 U.S. states have joined the competition to design and build a production-capable vehicle with a fuel economy of 100 mpg (2.4 L/100 km), or the energy equivalent. The vehicle also must meet market needs for price, size, capability, safety and performance in one of two classes – mainstream and alternative.

Jonathan Etherington, principal engineer at the Tata Motors European Technical Center, says his team intends to enter a pure electric-drive micro car in the alternative class and a “Dominant Electric Hybrid” vehicle in the mainstream class.

Mainstream vehicles are required to carry at least four passengers and have four or more wheels, as well as achieve a 200-mile (322-km) range.

Alternative-class vehicles will be required to carry at least two passengers and a 100-mile (160-km) range.

Other recent entrants in the competition include Motive Industries of Canada, Western Washington University, Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies Inc. and TTW Turin.

Rocker Neil Young, along with partner Jonathan Goodwin, also intends to enter his ‘60 Lincoln Continental conversion in the competition.

“With the first-stage race only 17 months away and the price of crude oil now hovering around $120 a barrel, consumer interest in the need for such a competition and a long-term solution to fuel prices is rapidly growing,” Automotive X Prize Executive Director Don Foley says.

Beginning in September 2009, the Automotive X Prize will kick off its cross-country race in New York, followed by nine other major markets throughout the U.S.

Race organizers are seeking additional cities to host the remaining stages of the competition, which is scheduled to conclude in 2010.