The West Philly Hybrid X Team

It’s not often that I am truly inspired by something. I’m just not a sappy guy. But a group of teenagers from Western Philadelphia High School definitely moved me. What started as a regular inner city high school shop class has become a world renown hybrid automotive team that is respected by the biggest car companies in the world.

The program officially started in 1997. Their first project was converting an old Jeep Wrangler to electric power. By 2002 the team won the electric vehicle division of the Tour de Sol with their Electric Saturn SL2. They simply applied available technology to create a 130 mile range ev that can fully charge in 8 hours. Although the old Saturn had made them champions, it was powered by a 36 hp motor, leaving much to be desired in terms of performance. So the team started plans for a hybrid hot rod that eventually looked like this:

West Philly Hybrid X

They created the world’s first hybrid supercar, the K1 Attack. The team used a VW turbo diesel (150hp) to power the rear wheels, and an AC Propulsions electric motor (200hp) to power the front wheels. This allows the super hybrid to attain an impressive fuel economy of over 50mpg and a zero to sixty acceleration of under 4 seconds. The K1 Attack won the 2005 and 2006 Tour de Sol overall prize, but was entered as a biodiesel car only.

In May of 2008, the team was chosen by Ford Motor Company to participate in a competition to “design a revolutionary global vehicle for today that shares the Model T’s attributes”. Along with this invitation came a $75,000 dollar grant to go with numerous donations they have received since they gained international recognition with the K1 Attack. If they can create a hybrid supercar with $15,000, imagine what these kids can do with that kind of money. They are also entered in the Automotive X Prize, which is an amazing competition in search of the 100mpg car. The Hybrid X Team will enter their EVX, which is still early in development, but is based around a Toyota Corolla chassis. The entry will likely be a typical hybrid that goes up to 40 mph on electric, then is powered by a two cylinder diesel engine for any speed above. Popular Mechanics has a good article on the top 10 teams vying for the Automotive X Prize ($10 million by the way). You can also visit the Hybrid X Team’s fancy new site for more information on this spectacular program.

And here’s a cool video:

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