Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer published this story about a hybrid sports car built by students at West Philadelphia High School’s Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering.
This car was named best overall at last year’s eco-friendly Tour de Sol competition, beating out those made by teams from some of the nation’s upper-echelon colleges and universities. The vehicle is currently on display at the Philadelphia Auto Show.
Although budget cuts threatened the West Philly auto program, it was saved by public outcry from parents and area auto dealers. And the students will be back at Tour de Sol this year to defend their title.
Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:
The high schoolers’ engineering feat may have observers wondering why Detroit hasn’t already made such a car.
“This is off-the-shelf technology, and we’re not 180 I.Q. people around here,” said Simon Hauger, a physics teacher who is the West Philadelphia automotive program’s administrator.
“We’re super low-budget,” he said, so automakers “should be cranking them out.
“Who wouldn’t want a cool sports car hybrid?”
The Motor City could have built one, but years ago, the Big Three domestic automakers misjudged where oil prices and consumer desires would be today…
…The West Philly squad’s car is based on a kit called the Attack, made by K-1 Engineering, based in Serbia and Montenegro. The kit’s carbon-fiber body fits over the chassis and frame assembled from a K-1 kit and a Honda Accord donor vehicle, which the team modified extensively.
The students altered the frame to accommodate a 200-horsepower electric motor under the front hood. An upgraded 150-horsepower, turbocharged Volkswagen diesel engine occupies what would be the trunk on most cars.
To comply with Tour de Sol rules, the engine runs on “biodiesel” fuel: It’s biodegradable and nontoxic, and has significantly lower emissions than petroleum-based diesel when burned.