Electrifying car challenge sparks passions

eV Challenge vehicles

Photo By Step Up Photography

eV Challenge vehicles

Julian Vicentini, Reporter

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Start your batteries, the Electric Vehicle (eV) Challenge is upon us: where local and up-coming engineers are ready to put their powered vehicles to the test.

First initiated by Murdoch University, the event has been running since 2001, requiring competitors to race their own designed and built electric vehicles.

The challenge planned for Saturday 11 May 2019 at Mega Fast Karts in Cockburn will be to see how far individuals can travel their vehicle in a one-hour race using only 432 watt-hour batteries.

According to the eV challenge website, the event “is all about education and having fun while learning” with the “aim to be primarily a STEM education event – giving teachers and students an opportunity to put skills and concepts into action, working together as a team to solve engineering problems and to have design solutions evaluated in the most unforgiving of arenas.”

President of the eV challenge, Clay Woolcock,is a passionate and dedicated advocate for the event. He was happy to mention that, “It is Australia’s longest running electric vehicle competition.”

Woolcock says the idea behind the energetic event is education.

“The idea is obviously the kids, as they come through various courses whether it’s engineering studies or at high school”.

After many years of the event, its grown substantially, Woolcock went on to add how successfully it has developed.

“Now we are at a stage where it has improved its efficiency, so you are actually going faster in the hour. Initially the distance people went was around 20km in the hour on average, we are now going in excess of 35km in the hour. We are significantly quicker now than when we once were.”

With the increase in speed of the electric vehicles it has forced the event organisers to increase other aspects of pre-development process when creating the power machines.

“The speeds have obviously crept up over the years, we had to increase the budget limit. Everything used to be $1000 when it just started, it’s now a $1500 budget. The budget covers all your parts,” Woolcock said.

One difficulty faced over the years is the type of batteries that teams were placing into their electric vehicles. Competitors were using a whole different range of batteries, with some gaining significant advantage by spending all of their allowable budget on the best batteries and really scrimping and saving elsewhere.

Woolcock and the team at the eV challenge noticed these actions being taken up by participants. So, they decided to alter some of the regulations about spending.

“We have removed some of the items from the budget, we have had to take the battery out. About three or four years ago we introduced a rule to put everyone on the same battery, so that the battery wouldn’t become a performance differentiator. In other words you couldn’t just win,” Woolcock explained.

Electric vehicles are seen by many as the new and exciting automobile for the future. According to the Electric Vehicle Council website their mission “is to accelerate the electrification of road transport for a sustainable and prosperous Australia” and it states that “switching to an electric car can save you money and reduce carbon emissions”.

It’s not all positive at the moment though, with the website My Electric Car stating that “A lack of direct government incentives has led to a reluctance by manufacturers to bring their vehicles down under. There are a limited number of pure BEV models available in Australia”.

The eV challenge through its years of racing is something that has educated students about the environmental benefits of owning an electric vehicle. But Woolcock explains that the environmental factor isn’t the primary focus anymore.

“That was an original aim for the competition, but we now also focus more on it being an engineering education competition. The fact that we are playing with electric vehicles may seem green and environmentally friendly, but the main education lane is to give kids a design brief for electric vehicles.”

To find out more about the eV Challenge 2019 visit their Facebook page.