Out but not down
Illuminati Motor Works looks to the future
By Edward VanHoose
Illuminati Motor Works members Nick Smith, Kevin Smith and George Kennedy with “Seven” at the Michigan International Speedway.
The team at Illuminati Motor Works (IMW) had high hopes for its car “Seven” at the culminating event for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE (PIAXP). After all, they had spent over two years of their lives working on the car, with the hopes of proving that a greater than 100MPG equivalent automobile could be produced with current technology. Although they passed almost every test at the trials, they missed one—a slipping clutch caused the car to miss the 0-60 Mph acceleration test by 5 seconds. The almost entirely self-funded team did not have the resources to replace the clutch in a timely manner at the Michigan International Speedway. So, the X PRIZE dream ended.
As Jennifer Danzinger, Web Liason for IMW says, “We lost our chance at the $5 million dollar prize by 5 seconds.”
But the competition doesn’t end the dreams of IMW. Now, they are refocusing their efforts with both renewed vigor and new goals.
“We are speaking with the people from Roush Engineering (www.roush.com) to figure out a way to simplify the engineering of the car,”says Kevin Smith, Team Leader / Engineer. “The eventual goal is to get into pre-production, to make the care more easily replicated. Right now, it’s a one-of-a-kind. That’s bad.”
Smith and his team hope to show that Seven can be affordably reproduced.
In the meantime, the team has been educating the public about the benefits of electric vehicles. In October, they attended the sustainability week at the University of Illinois.
“It was a real pleasure for us to be able to attend that event. We got to show the car to quite a few people,”says Smith.
In addition, the team has been showing the car at various other community events hosted by elementary schools, rotary clubs and other colleges. They also displayed the car at Rural Electric Convenience Cooperative’s (www.recc.coop) annual meeting.
When asked about the team’s future plans, Smith replies, “Well, we burned up our clutch and so what’s next? We fix what’s wrong, make improvements and come back with a fully functional Death Star… er… I mean fully functional ‘Seven.’”
The team plans to spend the winter making performance modifications. “We’re looking into breaking some world records,” says Smith. “Perhaps we could break the Top Speed record for an electric 4-door sedan. We might even break the Top Speed record for any electric vehicle. We’re also looking at Maximum Range records and our ability to tow another vehicle.”
The German team, TW4XP, approached IMW shortly after the X PRIZE competition with a possible challenge of a race next year.
“We were talking and they mentioned they would like to do some kind of Route 66 race. If they put something like that together, we will definitely participate,” says Smith.
In the meantime, the team keeps moving forward with its long-range goal.
Smith says, “If battery technology leaps forward then there will be mass production. We would like to demonstrate that the technology is here now.”
To learn more about Illuminati Motor Works or to help with their effort to create sustainable mobility, go to www.illuminatimotorworks.org.
Illuminati Motor Works “Seven” specifications:
- (Theoretical): 8 seconds
- (Applied): 8.4 seconds
- (Theoretical): 225 MPH for 20 minutes
- (Applied): True top speed has yet to be tested. Seven has been driven up to 130 MPH.
- (Estimated): 200 miles at highway speeds.
- (Applied): 199.3 miles on 94% of the 32.5 Kwh pack at speeds up to 65 miles per hour.
Miles Per Gallon Equivalent:
- (Estimated): 200 MPGe at highway speeds.
- (Applied): At the competition Seven averaged 182 MPGe at highway speeds.
Warp Drive Optional