University of Alberta Formula Racing Team unveils their first electric racecar

It was a packed house at the Porsche dealership in west Edmonton over the weekend as hundreds of people were revved up to see the unveiling of the first electric racecar built by a university race team in Alberta.

The University of Alberta Formula Racing Team has been around for 25 years and has been successful in building traditional combustible vehicles for competitions. But this year, the team tried on some new tires, creating an electric vehicle which is set to compete this summer.

“It’s quite an impressive engineering feat that all of our engineering students were able to achieve this year,” said Daniel Keys, the project manager of the University of Alberta Formula Racing Team.

Reaching a top speed of 120 km per hour doesn’t seem that fast, but how quickly the car can reach top speed is remarkable. With a built-in battery of 400 volts, the racecar has the same power as a commercial electric vehicle but is far lighter.

The students say this project is important to help break stigmas around electric cars.

“There is a lot of stigma around the safety of electric vehicles. For example in our competition, we have rules and key criteria around the design to make sure things like lithium-ion battery packs are safe,” explained Keys.

Electric vehicles face some challenges in Alberta during periods of extreme cold temperatures in the Winter. When asked about advances in technology and what they learned building the racecar, the team says any problem can be solved with a little time.

“From designing to building their cars, you’re always going to run into an issue, be it electric, designs, and stuff like that. But there’s always a way to solve a problem and it’ll just improve from there,” said Michael Buchel, the business lead of the University of Alberta Formula Racing Team.

“It all can be applied to the industry no matter where you go.”

The race team says they hope to one day compete in both electric and combustible competitions, but for now, they’re charged and ready to take on other teams from across North America on the track this Summer.

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