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Oxford engineers unveil eco-car

A group of Oxford University engineers recently unveiled a battery electric car for an international competition to build energy-efficient vehicles.

According to Dr J.Bishop, the team manager for the project, PEGGIE is a light-weight carbon fibre car that uses a state of the art lithium-ion battery pack to provide energy to an electric motor located in the hub of the rear wheel, allowing it to travel up to 30km/h (18.64mph).

It is being entered into the European leg of the Shell Eco-marathon 2012 in Rotterdam on 16 May where it will compete against 20 other teams in the prototype, battery electric vehicle class.

The goal of the Eco-marathon is to minimize the energy used to complete the 16.3km (10.1m) street course.

Dr.J.Bishop described the two pronged approach in ensuring that PEGGIE uses energy efficiently. He said, “the car employs a body shape with a low coefficient of aerodynamic drag which is fitted to low rolling resistance tyres”.

He added that the team have reduced the mass of the vehicle, explaining, “Less energy is required to deliver a particular velocity. PEGGIE’s carbon fibre chassis is lightweight and strong. The motor and batteries are sized to deliver enough power and energy to complete the course, there’s no excess.

“Other technology which the team have introduced includes an eco-driving indicator for the driver. This provides the driver feedback on their speed relative to the optimum for the point that they are in the course. The optimum speed will be updated as based on track conditions, such as an obstruction due to slow moving traffic.”

The name PEGGIE comes from EPG (Energy and Power Group) which is contributing to the project. The PEGGIE team is led by Dr. Justin Bishop, James Martin Research Fellow in the Energy and Power Group.

On 8th May 2012, Peggie, the electric battery car was revealed to public in a press launch held in Begbroke Science Park, Oxford. At the launch, the team members gave a public demonstration in assembling the car, after which driver Lucy Alexandra Mahony demonstrated the car in action.

When asked what the team hoped to achieve in the wider world through this project, Dr.Bishop replied, “The University of Oxford does not have a long history of participating in eco-vehicle competitions. The motivation of entering PEGGIE is to provide a real-world application for our research.

‘It challenges us to move beyond the ideal conditions in the lab or on the computer to design and build a robust vehicle. Other learned skills include team work and systems thinking.”

When asked what she thought, Ilana Blumberg a first engineer at Lincoln said “it was great to see the University using its resources to find innovative solutions to contemporary issues – PEGGIE really is a fantastic feat of engineering!”

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