Driving Today

High School Team Wins Green Grand Prix

Hybrid supercar outshines 44 competitors, including teams from major car manufacturers.

West Philadelphia High School’s Academy of Automotive and Mechanical Engineering isn’t exactly an amateur operation. It works in cooperation with International Battery, a U.S. developer of large-format lithium-ion batteries -- and it was the winner of the 100-mile fuel economy road rally at the Green Grand Prix held at Watkins Glen, N.Y. The high school automotive team’s winning entry was its EVX GT hybrid supercar, which uses International Battery’s lithium-ion technology for energy storage. The car previously earned a semifinalist position in Progressive’s Automotive X PRIZE competition last summer.

The Green Grand Prix attracted a wide variety of competitors, from industry giants such as General Motors -- which fielded the Chevy Volt and its fuel-cell powered SUV -- to homemade vehicles, such as the propane-fueled Ford Model A. Three Automotive X PRIZE participants were also in the field, including a team from Cornell University. When the competition was over, the International Battery-sponsored EVX GT was declared the winner of the 100-mile rally, achieving 160 miles per gallon. That made it the most fuel-efficient vehicle to participate in the competition.

The EVX GT is a modified Factory Five GTM supercar with a unique hybrid powertrain using a Volkswagen 1.9-liter diesel engine operating on biodiesel fuel and an electric drive system powered in part by International Battery’s innovative large-format lithium-ion battery cells. The battery design incorporates 50 Ah lithium-nickel cobalt manganese cells and contains a total of 8.8 kWh. The modular design, in four packs distributed throughout the car, allows a nominal operating voltage of 180 volts.

A key advantage to utilizing International Battery’s large-format energy storage systems is the company’s unique Battery Management System (BMS). The BMS monitors the voltage and temperature of each cell and provides continuous balancing of the system, maintaining an even state of charge across all cells. The large format of the prismatic cells results in a less-complex system with fewer thermal-management issues. This technology allows the EVX GT to be a more efficient and reliable vehicle.

“It feels great to be in the winner’s circle,” says Simon Hauger, West Philly’s director. “I think we have a compelling car. It’s sexy, it’s fast, and we just got over 100 miles per gallon on a world-famous track. Not bad for a high school.”



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