A cohort of Simon Fraser University students from various academic backgrounds are developing a carbon-free emission race car for the upcoming Formula SAE Electric competition being held in summer 2018. This will be the first time an SFU-based team has ever participated in the international competition.

Team Phantom is currently in the process of developing an eco-friendly Formula-style race car, which they plan on using to representing SFU at the international contest being held in Lincoln, Nebraska from June 20–23, 2018. The team will be competing against 30 other universities across North America if their race car prototype is successfully assembled by the competition date.

The Formula SAE Electric competition is an engineering design competition that is open to all post-secondary students. The competition challenges its participants to “develop and construct a single-seat race car for the non-professional . . . autocross racer with the best overall package of design, construction, performance and cost,” according to its website.

“Our main goal [of competing in this competition] is to put SFU on the international map for innovation,” said Edward Chiang, Team Phantom’s director of public relations. “We want to bring our home institution the recognition it deserves when it comes to innovation and sustainability.”

Team Phantom is currently comprised of 30 members and the club welcomes anyone with the passion of working on a large-scale project and the willingness to learn, regardless of their educational background and skills.

According to Chiang, the current cost of developing a race car ranges from $80,000–$100,000. However, the team believes that with the support of the university and their campaigning efforts for sponsorship funds, they will have a successful competition-ready, top-speed electric race car.

“Although [the cost of development] seems like a very large sum, there are currently 70 competition-ready universities prepared to race in this upcoming 2018 competition,” said Chiang. The registration is completely full and 40 out of those 70 institutions are on the waitlist, he added.

He also noted that electric-powered cars can actually outspeed traditional gasoline dependent vehicles, with Tesla being the primary example. “In a gas-powered vehicle, when you press the throttle . . . fuel flows into the cylinder, getting compressed, expanded, and combusted, [until] finally providing the desired power. With that power, the driver then needs to change gears to get the desired acceleration. In an electric vehicle, there is no delay from the moment you press the throttle to output speed as electrical power is instantaneous alongside the fact that there is no need for gear changing in an electric vehicle,” explained Chiang.  

The team managed to develop an all-electric go-kart earlier this year that uses reusable electric batteries as its energy source. Their success with the fully electric go-kart proved their skillset and passion for sustainable technology, as well as commitment to developing environmentally friendly transportation.

Chiang noted that without the support of the university and the local municipalities, the financial aspect of preparing for the competition can be a hard challenge to overcome. However, Chiang is hopeful that the team will pull through despite the current circumstances.

“We have a group of passionate and skilled individuals that do not give up on the dream of creating sustainable transportation and constantly try to find ways to succeed even when resources are scarce,” he concluded.

With files from SFU News.