Heart and soul
Ireland’s first ever team at a Shell Eco-marathon, from National University of Ireland Galway, considered 20 different concepts before landing on their Prototype battery electric car - the Geec. “We didn’t expect the standard to be so high,” said driver Maryrose McLoone. The team then went on to pass an impressive eight out of ten tests first time, and the remaining two by the end of the day.
In a display of team generosity so often seen at the Shell Eco-marathon, team Aston University from the UK donated a spare seatbelt to Smart Power Urban from Poland, who discovered theirs was missing.
Team TU/Ecomotive have taken an even more modular approach to their UrbanConcept battery electric car. Designed as road-going vehicle, its batteries can be exchanged in minutes when empty. The biodegradable body panels can also be replaced with new ones in different colours and shapes, clicking into place.
Student Rob Kloosterman explained the team had been removing modules – including the radio – to bring the car’s weight just below the 225kg UrbanConcept limit.
Rule changes this year mean all cars must have a front-wheel drive design. For many teams, this meant redesigning their cars to place the front wheels on the outside of the body so that they can turn.
Other changes include a mandatory “dead man’s switch” – a safety device which the driver has to press at all times to keep the car working. With switches often mounted on the steering wheel, some drivers are finding it difficult to turn the wheel and press at the same time.
Teams also had to build their own motor control systems from scratch. Team Ruppin-Jet from Germany, with their Prototype battery electric car, impressed inspectors by mounting theirs onto a round frame which can be slotted straight into the car.