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Team unveils new hybrid race car for competition

Ryan Reiss/Daily
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By Paula Friedrich, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 26, 2014

A sweep of blue fabric unveiled the MHybrid Racing team’s car in the atrium of North Campus’ Francois Xavier Bagnoud Building on Wednesday night.

The team will take the car to the weeklong Formula Hybrid competition at the end of April for its third showing at the competition in New Hampshire. Cars compete in acceleration, autocross, endurance and marketing competitions. The MHybrid team took fourth place last year.

After unveiling the car, the team removed its shell to reveal the jumble of wires, gears and tubes that makes the vehicle go.

With 20 percent less weight than last year’s car, the vehicle features an organized and modular electric system.

“Last year, we had our first working car that actually could run and so from there we learned a lot of things about how to design it, how to test it,” said Engineering junior Ben Wang, the team’s electrical lead. “We learned from mistakes.”

Five teams — mechanical, controls, electric, aerodynamics and business — came together to build the car from scratch, excluding a few motors and batteries. The front wheels are powered by electric motors, and the back wheels by a combustion engine.

Engineering senior Connor St. John, team co-captain, said it’s the first year that the car looks like they “put thought into it.” He said the last two years were well-thought out too, but that this car is better designed — a jump that he credits to the experience gained in the last two years.

“We really stepped up our game. We took a lot more design considerations,” said Engineering junior Forrest Coghill, the team’s co-mechanical lead. “I would say the whole vehicle is a little more streamlined.”

Coghill, who will lead next year’s team with Wang, said the future of the Formula Hybrid competition is uncertain as industry sustainability preferences and standards are in flux.

“Companies like Tesla are pushing electric vehicles and I think that’s ultimately where the industry is going to go,” he said. “So I could also see the competition going in that direction.”

That means the team may have to prepare to adapt to possible shifts in the competition. Coghill said he imagines this change could take the form of a modular base frame that can support both hybrid and fully electric systems.

Engineering senior Karan Patal, team co-captain, added that the car was complete two-and-a-half weeks earlier than it was last year, which the captains credit to a motivated team.


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