Tech students build an electric car

Jun. 06, 2013 @ 04:56 PM

Students at Central Academy of Technology and Arts are cruising around the parking lot in a brand new electric car. One they built themselves.

The car was a project for a new class, the electric vehicle hybrid class, Roger Pressley an automotive instructor, said. They started building the car in January and finished it last week. 

The car started as a bare, metal frame. The collision repair students painted the frame and automotive students installed all of the components, Pressley said. 

About 20 students worked on the car. 

"Some of them were really excited about it, some of them were not as enthused," Pressley said. "Electric cars make no noise. Some of the kids like ot hear the engines run. They all thought it was neat, but some of them really got into it more than others." 

It was a slow process in the beginning due to the lack of parts.

"As most projects we've done, they're slow to get started," Pressley said. "You can watch them get more excited and work harder as the process goes along because they can see (the car forming)."

The majority of the work was the high-voltage wiring, Pressley said. 

"It was something different they'd never done before," he added. 

The car will be street-legal once it is inspected. It will be registered as a motorcycle because of its build and its three wheels, Pressley said. 

He is not sure what the class will do next year. 

"We really want to keep this car in tact the way it is because it's a really good training vehicle," Pressley said. 

He hopes that next year the class can convert a pick-up truck or car to an electric hybrid vehicle, though that will depend on funding, he said. 

The students got hands-on experience with skills that will help in the future.

"There's a lot of fabrication to it," Pressley said. "There's a lot of problem solving on it...they had to design some things, several different things."

He said that high-voltage wiring is slightly different, but is the future. 

However, for most of the students, the greatest joy has been driving. 

"They've had a ball driving it," Pressley said. "They've just wore it out over the last week."

The students cannot go on the road, but they have been driving on the bus driveway and in the parking lot.

"You'd think it was Christmas, they just had a ball," he said. 

The battery is supposed to get 45 to 50 miles on the road. However, the power has varied on test runs. It is made to hold one person, but they have been driving with two or three people, so it weighs the vehicle down. 

The car has appealed to other departments, as well. The earth science students came to drive and learn about the car. 

"It's pretty neat," Pressley said.