Pushing the frontiers of vehicle efficiency

05 March 2012

Student engineers from the Oxford Martin School’s Institute for Carbon and Energy Reduction in Transport (ICERT) have been selected to participate in a global competition for energy efficient vehicles. They will be entering ‘PEGGIE’, a prototype battery electric vehicle (pictured), into the 2012 Shell Eco-marathon in Rotterdam this May. But only if they can achieve the sponsorship they need to cover the costs of participation.

Working in conjunction with The Energy and Power Group (EPG) of the University of Oxford, the engineers are hoping to push the frontiers of vehicle efficiency with their latest design.

The Shell Eco-marathon challenges student teams from around the world to design, build and test energy efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, the winners are the teams that go the farthest distance using the least amount of energy. PEGGIE’s team will be competing in the battery electric vehicle competition class, which last year set a record of 843 km on 1 kWh of electricity. The team is confident they can beat this record with the technological innovations that they plan to incorporate into PEGGIE.

The prototype car’s aerodynamic body, chassis and motor will be evaluated in order to employ the best battery storage technology and driving strategy. Innovations, such as real-time track strategy and optimization (allows a new strategy to be determined if the driver deviates from the set course), combined with a driver ‘heads-up display’ (indicates whether the driver is optimising vehicle energy consumption) will be implemented. A track strategy will ensure that the vehicle is driven in the most energy efficient manner on the selected course.

Engineers at I-CERT have used imaginative engineering to develop vehicle models that combine new technologies in order to radically improve the efficiency of cars while reducing carbon emissions. Current research also investigates the multiple influencers on consumer choice when purchasing a vehicle as well as the impact of ‘green’ campaigns, government incentives and peer pressure on consumer preferences. According to Director, Dr Malcolm McCulloch, “Making efficient cars 'cool' may be as important for decreasing emissions as developing the technology itself.”

McCulloch added “Events like the Eco marathon provide a valuable opportunity to, showcase the latest technologies incorporated into these innovative prototypes as well as to share knowledge and expertise.”

The team has set up a crowd-funding sponsorship campaign to raise the £6800 needed for technical and logistical help with this project.