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USA: Nittany Lion tests the future of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are no longer science fiction. They have arrived, and Penn State is charged up about them. Penn State students already participate in the EcoCar2 Challenge, a multi-collegiate competition sponsored by General Motors (GM) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and they are always on the look out for new technologies. When some of the members spotted a new Tesla Model S electric vehicle on campus recently, they approached the owner, Penn State alumnus Elliott Weinstein, and he graciously loaned his vehicle to the Sustainability Institute for a few days of testing. The Tesla is not a typical electric vehicle. It’s a high-performance sports car that can go from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

Besides being the proud owner of one of the first Tesla S vehicles in Pennsylvania, Weinstein is a Penn State alumnus with both B.S. and M.S. degrees from the Smeal College of Business. He is a donor to Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and the Board Chair for PSU Hillel. Weinstein met the students at the Sustainability Institute’s MorningStar Solar Home to give them a chance to put get up close and personal with the Tesla.

Zach Holden, freshman engineering student and EcoCar 2 team member, was excited when Weinstein offered him the chance to drive, “He turned to me to ask if I wanted to drive, but I thought he was kidding. Accelerating from stop felt like taking off in a jet!”

Chris Golecki, co-team leader for Penn State EcoCAR 2 summed up the experience, “Tesla has changed the electric car game. Not only is it exotic, but it’s innovative, too. That’s something Penn State engineers are striving to be as well.”
A Quiet Ride
A Quiet Ride

Penn State alumnus Elliott Weinstein took the Nittany Lion for a quiet ride in his all-electric Tesla Model S outside the MorningStar Solar Home at Penn State’s University Park campus.
Image: Bill Zimmerman

Weinstein gave the Nittany Lion mascot a ride in the electric vehicle. The Lion mascot is widely known for his energy and endurance, two traits not usually associated with electric cars. But battery technology may be catching up with the lion. The Model S is reported to have the greatest range of any the electric car on the market today (160-300 miles depending on battery pack). The Lion was so impressed with the test drive that, when asked to comment on the future of electric vehicles, he was completely speechless! However, he made it clear that he was ready to get behind the wheel of Penn State’s own car of the future.


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