PHILADELPHIA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS, PART OF A TEAM WITH YEARS OF EXPERIENCE BUILDING HYBRID VEHICLES, ARE COMPETING FOR A $10 MILLION PRIZE
Twelve years ago, Simon Hauger started what is now the West Philly Hybrid X Team electric vehicle club to help students put math and science to use. Twenty Philadelphia high school students are in the auto club, which receives help from students of West Philadelphia High School's Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering. The "ultimate goal is to get where we can integrate what we do into a regular school day," explained Ann Cohen, team manager.
The auto club's mission is to build a vehicle that utilizes existing technology to achieve ultra-low carbon emissions and ultra-high fuel efficiency, without sacrificing drivability, style, and safety. Members started with a science fair entry and then developed an alternative fuel vehicle for Tour de Sol, winning in 2002, 2005, and 2006. They currently are in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE contest for creating a 100-mpg vehicle. "The amount of experience and exposure they get is amazing," revealed Cohen.
The Automotive X PRIZE competition's goal is to inspire a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles that help break reliance on oil and stop climatic effects. This high school team is one of 41 preparing cars for the next rounds, including track events starting in April. The competition is in two classes.
An entry must be affordable and mass produced. The club built a 5-passenger vehicle (EVX Focus) built on a Ford® Focus chassis. It runs on gasoline and biobutanol. The power train has a 2-cylinder Harley-Davidson® engine and 60-horsepower Azure Dynamics electric motor with a lithium ion battery pack.
The club built a biodiesel car (EVX GT) for this class, which has fewer performance and design restrictions. This GT came as a Factory Five GTM kit and features a Volkswagen 1.9-liter TDI engine with Azure Dynamics electric motor and battery pack.