July 27, 2018, by Emma Lowry

Racing UK’s first ever all-wheel drive electric motor car at Formula Student

Young engineers at the University of Nottingham are gearing up to compete at an international student motorsport competition with the Formula-style electric race car they designed and built from scratch.    

The team aims to showcase the UK’s first ever all-wheel drive electric motor car at the Formula Student, Czech Republic, a renowned test ground for the next-generation of top engineers.  

They will compete against 50 other student engineering teams from universities world-wide when their vehicles take to the track at the Polygon Autodrom Circuit in Most, Czech Republic, Jul 31st – Aug 4th.  

Formula Student Racing. Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media

“Our goal is to become the UK´s first electric all-wheel drive Formula Student car. Our approach is unique as we create out-of-the-box designs which flags our team´s engineering capability and knowledge,” explains Salomé Sanchez, 2016-2018 race team leader at the University of Nottingham.  

“We have an AC motor and an advanced gearbox all fitting within every wheel. This provides additional power and maximizes the use of regen braking, which makes the vehicle faster and more efficient. We started from zero, modelling and building the parts, so it’s been a steep learning curve.”  

The fully electric race car was designed and built by around 50 students in groups of five focusing on aspects such as aerodynamics and the suspension system. The lightweight car has the capacity to provide about 120kW of power or 150 bhp – which all adds to its competitiveness.    

The Formula Student competition combines the need for innovative engineering, careful project management and teamwork to produce each working prototype vehicle that races. The small-scale cars are judged in a series of race tests on criteria including acceleration, energy efficiency, endurance and quality of the engineering.   

In addition to the track events, each team must also present a business case to prove their ideas are financially-sound and could be made into a sustainable business.  

The University of Nottingham Formula Student team mainly comprises third- and fourth-year mechanical and electrical engineering students, working on the project as a core element to their degree alongside others who joined the team as an extra-curricular activity, together with business, product design and marketing students.   

“Formula Student offers unprecedented hands-on project experience. It’s intensive; with strict deadlines to meet, creative problem-solving and team work required. It is well-respected in industry and participation can lead to internships and career opportunities,” explains Dr. Miquel Gimeno-Fabra, Racing Team director at the University of Nottingham.  

“With this project I’ve learnt how to design around a lot of factors and work in a realistic work environment,” said team member, Robert Smith. “It’s not just theory. I’m thinking purely practically – how it will work in real life. I’ve managed to get a placement with a construction company in Leicester next year. And that came from the fact I was thinking about things from a manufacturing perspective on this project.”  

The team is now also shaping up for the 2019 campaign, Elena Belenguer former member of the brakes and gearbox team and next team manager added: “Having the opportunity to work on this project is not only about the vehicle theory but about establishing a more ‘hands on’ approach. It has been a pleasure to work with a group of engineering students and see how we all showed our strengths and developed our weaknesses.” 

Team progress can be followed on the social media platforms below:   

Twitter: @UoN_FS  

Facebook: UoN Formula Student Team  

Instagram: uon_racing  

Linkedin University of Nottingham Racing  

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