Students to build electric vehicle

The truck will run with 12 to 18 car batteries and charge in a standard outlet.

Alex Robinson

Tesla Motors, a California car manufacturer, is working on a new high-end electric sports car that boasts a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour and can go from 0 to 60 in under four seconds. A University student group is working on a similar project – sort of.

The Applied Environmental Solutions student group, founded this summer, is researching how to convert a Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck to run solely on electricity.

Dale Howey, owner of D+E Management, is planning to buy the group a vehicle to convert. When the car is finished, Howey will use the truck for his day-to-day driving.

AES plans to take the combustion engine out of the truck and substitute it with an electric engine that doesn’t require gas and gives off no emissions. It will cost about 1 cent per mile to drive.

The truck will be powered by 12 to 18 car batteries, Adam Malovrh, electrical engineering senior and AES member said. The vehicle will be charged by being plugged into a standard outlet.

The truck is expected to have a top speed of about 80 miles per hour and will be able to travel about 50 miles before requiring a charge, Malovrh said.

For a full charge the vehicle will need to be plugged in for about eight hours, he said.

AES president Steve Peichel said the 50-mile range is enough for the average driver.

“The theory is that the average American drives less than 35 miles round trip to work,” Peichel said. “So you make an electric vehicle that can get you to work and back and then charge it at night.”

Malovrh said he hopes converting the truck will promote the group and contribute to the growing trend of hybrid vehicles.

“I hope it’s going to snowball after people see the interesting things our group is doing,” he said.

Once the truck is finished, AES will try to convince the University to convert some of its 200 on-campus vehicles into plug-in hybrids Malovrh said.

“What the University needs in a vehicle would fit right in the category of a plug-in hybrid,” Malovrh said. “They are always around outlets and they’re not going very far.”

Electrical engineering senior Hans Lillevold said the ultimate goal for the group is to persuade people to use available technology that reduces carbon dioxide emissions.

“It’s great that our group is becoming popular but I think it’s more important to get people to actually start using the technology,” Lillevold said.

Lillevold added that the hybrids probably didn’t catch on in the past because of politics and prices.

The vehicle Howey is planning to buy will cost about $5,000 with an additional $10,000 to $15,000 for conversion parts.

Howey said the cost is well worth it. He said people need to start thinking about how carbon emissions affect the greater population.

“Everything we do needs to be multiplied by 6.5 billion,” he said.

Howey hasn’t picked a car to convert yet, but the group isn’t sitting idle.

They are currently working on electric scooters and bikes. The smaller scale vehicles serve as a good warm-up for their upcoming car project, Malovrh said.

“It helps get our brains going on how to work the electrical systems, because in theory they’re going to be the same as on a truck,” Malovrh said.