Finland isn’t exactly a tour de force in the automotive industry. The small, scrappy Scandinavian country is mostly known for its exports of electronics and ships, as well as the tenacity of its Skiing soliders. But cars? That’s for the Swedes!
Though maybe not anymore. Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences has unveiled its Electric Race About electric car, which will be competing in the Automotive X-Prize competition this fall.
The three year project involved more than 60 partners including many students from the university. The ERA embraces the idea of less is more, by using a chassis that is about half the weight of a conventional car. It also forgoes many of the drivetrain issues that come from designing an electric vehicle around an existing architecture. There is no transmission, just a fancy computer-controlled vehicle drive system that controls the four individual wheel motors.
The ERA has an estimated range of about 200 kms (about 120 miles) thanks to its lithium-ion batteries. The all-wheel drive system gives it an advantage over many electric cars that drive just two wheels. Plus the charging system has been designed to give an “express charge” in ten minutes, though how many miles it is good for, they don’t say. I guess we’ll find out more when the X-Prize competition really gets under way.