NUS students realise electric dream

NUS students realise electric dream
Writer Christopher Tan with Mr Lim Hong Wee, teaching assistant in the engineering faculty of NUS behind the wheel of the FT12.

A group of engineering students at National University of Singapore has built a full-size two-seater electric car from the ground up - a feat usually performed by full-fledged vehicle manufacturers.

They built a hybrid steel-carbon fibre spaceframe by welding steel beams together and forming the lightweight and ultra-rigid material themselves.

The carbon fibre sheets are cured in a special oven. With a layer of foam sandwiched between two sheets, the carbon- fibre panels are bolted onto the steel skeleton to form the passenger cell.

Behind the seats, they bolted a direct- drive electric motor that powers the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.

Powering the motor are eight 12-volt lead-acid batteries mounted in the front and back to achieve a 44:56 weight distribution.

Double wishbone suspension are the link between 18-inch wheels and the chassis. And the car is just 150mm off the ground.

The two-seater weighs around 1,600kg, with the batteries accounting for 608kg.

The car measures 3,900mm long, 1,740mm wide and merely 1,215mm tall, with a wheelbase of 2,400mm.

To simplify construction and keep weight down, there are no doors. A sleek one-piece carbon-fibre shell is being constructed now and will be bolted onto the frame.

But as it is, the car is ready for driving.

At the invitation of Professor Lim Seh Chun, deputy dean of the engineering faculty, Life! took a couple of spins in the FT12 (FT stands for future transportation).

The verdict? It is a truly impressive endeavour for something that took only $120,000 and about a year to build.

You climb into the low bucket seat, attach the steeing wheel and strap on a six-point safety harness.

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