Senior Design: Formula SAE’s First Electric Vehicle

FormulaSAE_RenderingStart your engines! This year’s Formula SAE – Ram Racing team is bringing something new to the speedway; an electric vehicle with a need for speed. In June, team members are hoping to achieve a top 10 finish at the national Intercollegiate Design Competition in Nebraska. They will present at CSU E-Days as well.

All previous models have been internal combustion vehicles using E85 ethanol, so the challenge was to build an electric motor to outdo previous models’ performance – and to complete it in one year. This talented and dedicated group of mechanical engineering and electrical engineering seniors joined forces on this new concept – overcoming both electrical and mechanical challenges.

The electric motor is powered by a 144 lithium cobalt oxide battery with a max 300 volt DC. It operates at 80 kilowatts max power, has about 236 lb-ft of torque at the crank and a 4:1 gear reduction through thFormulaSAE_Framee chain drive. 944 lb-ft of torque is available at the wheels. The total weight of the vehicle is 625 pounds, which is fair for the first
model of its kind at CSU.

The generosity of a variety of sponsors has played a huge role in the elaborate concept of this electric vehicle. Larger and long-term sponsors include: Woodward, Lenovo, Melasta Batteries, Remy Motors, HMS Motorsports, 3R Automotive, SRAM, PTC, Colorado Waterjet, and Pioneer Engineering. Other local businesses and private parties, including team members’ families, have also been extremely supportive. The team has received $15,000 in cash and between $80,000 and $100,000 in in-kind donations over the last two years.

Other team supporters include Ram Racing, an undergraduate student organization, initiated in 1996. Club members generally meet twice a week and dedicate as much of their spare time and energy as possible into designing, basic building, and racing the Formula SAE vehicle.

The Intercollegiate Design Competition involves 508 teams from six continents. It was started in 1980 by engineers and automotive engineers as a way for students to participate in a Mini Indy race series. We wish Ram Racing best of luck at this national competition in June!