In early 2013, engineering students at Rhode Island’s Tiverton High School were given an ambitious project by their teacher: build a fully-functional electric vehicle with virtually nothing by way of a budget. What they came up with is pretty extraordinary: first they created The Endurance, a $1000 single-person PiEV, followed by The Apotheosis, a $1500 solar-powered EV that achieves a phenomenal 1552 MPGe.
Instructor Edwin Fernandes worked with two high school seniors—Zach and Ryan—to build the Endurance. The trio followed designs from a “nice fellow” in Florida to construct a chassis from PVC piping, which was donated to the project by a local plumber. An additional donation of $565 from a friend of the school allowed them to purchase bicycle wheels and a brushless DC motor that was originally designed for use in e-bikes.
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From there, Fernandes explains, the team “fabricated a wiring harness to connect the controls, regenerative braking, the three sealed lead-acid, 12-volt, 18 ah batteries, and charge port (which made Endurance a Plug-In Electric Vehicle or PIEV). They added a multimeter, which acted as a “digital gas gauge” and even wired a switch for reverse.”
With two “skinny” high school kids as test drivers, The Endurance set out on its maiden voyage on the school’s track, and managed to go flat out at its top speed of 18mph for 24 miles before the batteries ran out. The following school year, with funding from a local car dealership, students built a second, even lighter chassis, used better batteries, added solar panels to the roof, and transformers to step up the power and make it usable by the EV’s motor—all in all creating a lightweight solar-powered EV for just $1,584!
Via Make Zine