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USA: Western students create electric car

Students stepped through the door as the smell of gasoline and break dust filled the air. Two small racecars, no larger than a compact car, are stacked one of top of the other on a lift as an array of dune buggies and metal frames sit to the side. This is Western’s Vehicle Research Institute.

Busy bodies run about the shop while the sounds of footsteps and the clanking of metal echo off the vaulted ceiling. Everyone is working on something different from wielding to computer work, but they all have a common goal: to build a car from the ground up.

The Vehicle Research Institute has been working with undergraduate students at Western to build cars since 1972, said the director of Western’s Vehicle Research Institute, Eric Leonhardt.

This year the institute is working on its first ever fully electric racecar. It will take the car to Lincoln, Nebraska in June to compete against 20 other electric cars, Daniel Horsey, 29-year-old industrial technology and vehicle design major and team captain, said.

Every year teams of undergraduate students design, build and test a variety of cars for competitions across the country, Horsey said.

These five-day competitions test teams on their ability to sell their cars to industry professionals, their car’s ability to withstand technical inspections and its performance in autocross and endurance racing, Horsey said.
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