An electric vehicle designed and built by a team of students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) will be on display this week for the Mexican Grand Prix, which runs from Friday through Sunday.
The industrial design and electrical and mechanical engineering students participated earlier this year in the Americas division of the Shell Eco-Marathon with a car they call Mako, earning 12th place in the field of 38 entries and ranked second in its class in Latin America.
The team competed against university-level teams from the United States, Canada and Latin America. Before entering the main event, the entries had to pass 10 security tests, including turn radius, weight, design, seatbelt, the driver’s visibility and his or her ability to leave the vehicle in 10 seconds or less.
“This is the most complicated part of the competition, but last April we were able to pass all these tests in our first try and get access to the racing track right away,” said a team member.
Mako is the result of close to five years of steady work, said the students, who were focused on creating a vehicle with the best performance and efficiency possible, “because the Eco-Marathon rates those attributes instead of speed.”
It was the only Mexican entry in the competition.
The car, built for 350,000 pesos, close to US $19,000, weighs about 40 kilograms and is built mostly of aluminum and carbon fiber. With a fully charged battery it can travel distances of up to 87 kilometers, and it can reach speeds of 60 kilometers per hour.
The team’s results gave them the opportunity to showcase their vehicle and technical prowess on Thursday at Mexico City’s Palacio de los Deportes in an event related to the Formula One race at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.
The UNAM students will get the chance to meet and greet Ferrari racing driver Kimi Räikkönen, and give them the opportunity to reach more sponsors, on whose support they depend to continue developing their car.