Carmakers are not the only ones investing in automobile industry research in Brazil; universities are doing it too. Case in point, the School of Industrial Engineering (FEI) in the southeastern state of São Paulo
FEI, which is located in São Bernardo do Campo, in the Greater São Paulo, is exhibiting ecologically correct models developed by its students at the 24th International Automobile Trade Show.
One of the highlights is the hybrid Astra, powered by 25 electric batteries, which are in turn charged by a small combustion engine.
"It is a low-displacement combustion engine with just one cylinder, therefore it is very economical. Its sole objective is to drive the generator that loads the batteries," said Milton Monteverde Belli, a mechanical and automobile engineering student who worked on the project.
The car, dubbed FEI X-19, is powered by a 30-horsepower Siemens electric motor. According to Belli, maintaining a speed of 30-40 miles per hour, the engine has 6-hour autonomy.
The original Astra 5-speed gearbox was maintained, and the vehicle can reach speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, according to the student.
Should the batteries’ charge run low, sensors automatically turn on the Honda combustion motor, so there is no need to stop the car and connect it to an electric power supply.
On the whole, says Belli, ten people worked on the project, an extracurricular activity sponsored by the School over eight months.
"We finished it one day before the Trade Show," claimed the student. The Automobile Trade show began on October 19th and will run until next Sunday.
The work is really all about research; the students and the school have no intention of selling it, at least not in the short run. That would require further adaptation. The 25 batteries, for instance, take up a considerable part of the rear end of the car.
The school has also presented three competition models that participated in this year’s edition of the Energetic Performance Marathon, promoted in Indaiatuba, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, by the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA).
The FEI X-17 won in the electric cars category, which grants an award to the car that goes the farthest before the battery runs out.
In the gasoline category, FEI did not win the competition itself, but took first and second place in best gasoline-fueled vehicle, respectively with the FEI X-18, and the FEI X-16. The car that consumes the least fuel over a predetermined distance wins (four laps on a circular 10-mile track).
The students are also exhibiting at the Trade Show the Fórmula FEI, a racing car that won this year’s edition of the SAE Brasil-Petrobras Competition, promoted by the Mobility Engineers Society. The car will represent Brazil at Formula SAE, a contest to be carried out next year in Michigan, United States.
The school also presented the FEI X-1, the first model developed by its students in 1968 to be an amphibian car.
Anba – www.anba.com.br