UBC concept cars cruising to Texas 0
Engineering students at UBC test out their energy-efficient vehicles, the Mark VIII (left) and the Odysseus, at the Vancouver campus on Tuesday, March 19, 2013. The UBC Supermileage Team will be competing against 140 other schools at the Shell Eco Marathon in Texas next month. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Emitting an odour much like a motorized lawnmower, the Odysseus urban concept car circles around a nondescript University of B.C. parking lot four times without quite reaching its maximum speed of 30 km/h.
“You don’t want to go too fast,” driver Nancy Peng explained, adding the vehicle lacks suspension, forcing her to feel every bump on the road.
The UBC engineering student is among the 60 amateur car-nuts who spent the past six months devoting thousands of man-hours to designing and constructing the energy-efficient car for the Shell Eco-marathon competition April 4 in Houston, Texas.
The Odysseus isn’t street legal — the fuel pump is made from a pop bottle and even the sponsor decals are attached to the carbon fibre exterior with Scotch Tape.
But when the UBC Supermileage Team hits the Lone Star state next month to face 140 other schools competing to see which concept vehicle can go farthest on the least amount of fuel, team captain Connor Schellenberg-Beaver is confident about their chances.
“We’ve done some quite significant improvements this year,” he said, noting the latest incarnation of the Odysseus includes a modified fuel-injection system and a brand-new aeroshell body.
“You could probably go a month without refuelling it.”
In fact, his aim is that the car will be able to give the driver — there’s no passenger space save for a small compartment next to the engine — 200 kilometres per litre in the Eco-marathon.
Schellenberg-Beaver said he doesn’t expect a final-product version of the Odysseus to hit Vancouver streets anytime in the near future, since the cost of the prototype is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
“This car itself is more of a learning experience, but a lot of things we’re working on would be applicable to full-sized cars.”