Interactive: Under the Hood of West Philly’s X Prize Cars

by and Bill Rockwood

The challenge? To design and build an eco-friendly car that can achieve 100 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). The payoff? As much as $10 million in prize money.

Those were the stakes when students from West Philadelphia High School decided to go toe-to-toe with established carmakers, university teams, and multimillion-dollar start-ups in the 2010 Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition.

The renderings below illustrate the two vehicles that West Philly High submitted to the X Prize. You can click through each to learn more about vehicles that -- as the team wrote in its proposal to the competition -- could one day replace "the gas guzzling, smog spewing 'hoopties' that are the typical city ride."

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EVX FOCUS

Engine
Battery
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EVX GT

Engine
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The West Philly High EVX team was one of 22 teams from an original pool of 111 to reach the semi-final round of the X Prize. The EVX Focus was entered in the competition's mainstream category, defined as any four-wheel vehicle capable of carrying four or more passengers at least 200 miles. It needed to reach a fuel economy benchmark of 67 MPG to advance, but preliminary results showed the car fell just short at 65.1.

The EVX Focus is a modified version of a 2008 Ford Focus. The sedan earned the nickname of a "Harley Hybrid" because its original engine was taken out and replaced with a 1340cc two-cylinder Harley Davidson engine operating in tandem with a 45 kW electric motor from Azure Dynamics. The EVX Focus uses its battery-powered electric motor at speeds of 40 mph or less. For faster speeds, or during hard accelerations, it switches over to its Harley engine, which is capable of burning both gasoline and biobutanol.

EVX Focus's electric motor is powered by a 15 kWh lithium ion battery pack located in the trunk of the vehicle. Like other hybrids, the battery is charged through regenerative braking. That is, the vehicle takes the kinetic energy that is ordinarily lost during braking and uses it to charge the battery. Since the EVX Focus is a plug-in hybrid, it can also be charged through an electrical outlet. A full charge takes approximately six hours.

MPGe: > 130 (city); > 80 (highway)

Acceleration: 0-60 in less than nine seconds.

Top speed: 110+ mph

Horsepower: 140 HP

Emissions: Tier II, Bin 5*

*Federal emissions standards rank vehicles according to bin numbers. The lower the bin number, the cleaner the automobile. A Toyota Prius, for example, registers as a Tier II, Bin 3.

The West Philly High EVX team was one of 22 teams from an original pool of 111 to reach the semi-final round of the X Prize. The EVX GT was entered into the X Prize's alternative category, defined as any vehicle with a minimum 100-mile range capable of seating at least two passengers. It was eliminated after preliminary results showed it reaching a fuel economy benchmark of 53.5 MPG, short of the 67 MPG needed to advance.

The EVX GT is a modified 2009 GTM kit car from the auto manufacturer Factory Five Racing. It runs off of a turbo-diesel engine from Volkswagen together with an electric motor from Azure Dynamics. The GT uses its electric motor for speeds up to 50 mph. For faster speeds, it switches to its turbo engine, which runs on biodiesel fuel.

The EVX team uses the same lithium ion battery pack that is in its Focus sedan to power the GT's 45 kw electric motor. But whereas the Focus uses a 15kWh battery pack, the GT uses a 7 kWh pack.

MPGe: > 100 (city); 70 (highway)

Acceleration: 0-60 in less than five seconds.

Top speed: 150+ mph

Horsepower: 240 HP

Emissions: Tier II, Bin 5*

*Federal emissions standards rank vehicles according to bin numbers. The lower the bin number, the cleaner the automobile. A Toyota Prius, for example, registers as a Tier II, Bin 3.

SEE THE EVX FOCUS

SEE THE EVX GT

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