SAN JOSE, Calif.--A team competing for $2.5 million in the Automotive X Prize is in the final stages of developing a battery management system for their entry that they hope someday will power a range of commercial electric vehicles.
The E-Rex is an electric version of the $60,000, three-wheeled T-Rex race car from Campagna Motors, powered by a lithium ion phosphate battery instead of a gas engine. It is being developed by a team of volunteers working in San Jose and Ottawa who formed startup OptaMotive to design the electric vehicle.
Engineers working on E-Rex say they will make the car commercially available, at a small premium over the cost of its gas-powered cousin, whether or not they win the X Prize to be awarded in September.
|Michael Worry, a founder of startup OptaMotive, talks about the E-Rex with other designers.
"Today gas vehicles are cheaper than EVs, but only because there has been years of work on combustion engines," said Michael Worry, an OptaMotive founder. "In the long run EVs will be cheaper because they have dramatically fewer parts and thus less maintenance—our only liquid is windshield washer fluid," he said.
The E-Rex has a maximum speed of 160 MPH and can rev from 0 to 60 MPH in less than five seconds. To win the $2.5 million in its two-seater class of the X Prize, its builders must show the car can deliver the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, give off less than 200 grams carbon dioxide and travel 100 miles or more on a charge.
The $10 million competition started with 111 teams in three categories last year and is now down to 24, only eight of them left in the E-Rex's class. Worry expressed pride in the volunteer team's achievements so far against competitors including a startup that has received $18 million in venture financing to build a commercial EV.
"We passed an emergency double-lane change safety test on our first attempt, and they did it 20 times without passing and once their door fell off," Worry said.