Automotive X PRIZE competitor Illuminati Motor Works Q & A

11. Over the years many eco-enthusiast have made it seem as if solving the gasoline / oil usage problem is as simple as dropping in a battery pack. Why aren’t we seeing current sub-compacts running on long range batteries? Is it purely because of battery cost? If money isn’t an option can a current sub-compact be easily converted to run on battery power only?

Sure you can convert a car to run on electricity; I assume that is what you are asking, but just dropping a battery pack into a car is less than an ideal option.

1. Converting a car to run on electricity means reengineering the vehicle and compromising.

2. Today’s cars have been engineered around the internal combustion engine; hence the batteries and electric motors don’t fit into the same space resulting in waste, which results in an over all less efficient vehicle.

3. You would be better served putting a more efficient ICE in the vehicle like a small TDI diesel.

Kevin:

Although the answer seems straight forward, just drop in some batteries, like most things it’s not. Many technologies had to evolve to the point of being viable to meet the needs of the average driver and survive the harsh environment a vehicle is exposed to. Now many of these technologies are coming to maturity, in part because of research and advancements in cell phones, computers, motors and controllers, we can now make an electric car that outperforms our existing gasoline vehicles, however there is always a catch. If you want the newest greatest, fastest computer or cell phone and you want it first you’re going to pay for the privilege or build it yourself and in the case of a car you’ll end up doing both, and the process is not easy.

Iggy:

It probably would be wise for me in the future to phrase that question in terms of using an electric engine. But I think the general public understands the concept as running on batteries not an electric engine powered by them.

12. What makes your car different from other electric vehicles currently in production or in the planning stages?

Nate:

It looks cooler than the vehicles I have seen.

Kevin:

We’ve had a completely different starting point from which to build our vehicle, we have no preconceptions about what sells, we know what we like and we know what’s required by the competition and by law for safety, emissions, etc. That’s what we’ve built our car around. This has given us the freedom to experiment with design, incorporate materials from different fields and basically let our imaginations be our guide.

13. If the funds were available how much time would it take to bring Seven to the full production stage and onto showroom floors?

Nate:

I would guess about ten million dollars would do it.

George:

As part of the contest we have to develop a business plan to bring this vehicle to market. This plan calls for 10,000 vehicles per year to be produced, in a period of five years. If funds were available we would be in full production in about five years or 2014. Our plan calls for starting at a lower production sooner than this and increase to full production in 2014. The estimated cost including factory, tooling, employees and materials for the construction of the vehicles is $40 million of five years.

Kevin:

About 2 years if funds were immediately available. That would give us time to build and tool the factory and establish a small chain of dealerships. However, based on our current projections it would take about 4 years if funds become available upon winning the event.