The idea is simple—a low-mass, low-energy vehicle powered by renewable energy and designed specifically for city mobility.
In 2003, the task of designing such a vehicle was given to industrial design students at the University of South Australia, led by an experienced automotive designer. At the same time, engineering students started designing the low-mass structures and the major components of the car. The design was further refined during 2004.
The key features of the design were:
- three-wheeled design with tandem seating layout, to give good aerodynamics and good balance
- a canopy similar to that found on sailplanes, giving an unimpeded view of the road
- a single door, on the kerb side of the car
- single rear-wheel drive, to simplify the suspension and transmission
- an electric motor, to give smooth quiet acceleration from 0—100 km/h in about 10 seconds
- efficient tyres, to minimise rolling resistance
- a 45 kg lithium polymer battery, giving a range of over 100 km
- a tub chassis made from composite boards, formed by cutting, folding and gluing.
In 2005 the car was built, painted green, and named “Trev”.
Trev was further refined during 2006, and in 2007 was driven 3000 km from Darwin to Adelaide in the demonstration class of the World Solar Challenge. Cruising speed was 80-90 km/h, range was up to 120 km, recharge time was one hour.
The current challenge is the Zero Race—carry two people 30000 km around the world, powered by renewable energy. To achieve this, we need to:
- place a larger battery beneath the floor, to give a range of 250 km
- improve the brakes and suspension
- make the back seat more comfortable
- get the car registered.
The key design concepts will not change.
Trev. Simple, efficient, clean.