2015-05-18: the EducEco Challenge in Colomiers, France

This year the EducEco is dated one week before the Shell Eco-marathon. This gives us the chance to drive eLi15 under competition conditions, for the first time. Due to regular test drives, the car as well as our new drivers Julia Hesse and Annkatrin Swanson were well prepared and surprised with reliability and routine.

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For sure, the high developed design of eLi15 is also playing a big role, there. We could participate at all test- and competition runs hardly working on the vehicle. Due to that we had more time to do some optimization on the car. Therefore, we transport our mobile test bench 1400km from Munich to the competition in Colomiers. Our steady work on the car during the competition days is presented by the results. On each competition run we could improve our efficiency even with changing weather conditions. That means that our final run was the best. Finally, with an efficiency of 1888km/kWh, we have won the competition in the Prototype Battery Electric class.

Furthermore, we have been awarded:

  • the “Design Award” for our concept of eLi15,
  • the “Technical Innovation Award” for our lightweight cross member, weighing just 800 grams,
  • and the “Prix de Motorisation” for our motor assembly, with a lightweight motor from our Sponsor TQ Systems, with a total weight of just 512 grams.

In addition to all these awards, we have been awarded the “Grand Prix” of the Prototype class which means the best car of all participating prototypes.

 

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Thursday – the arrival

 

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After a long journey with an over-night stop in Lyon, we have been the first team at the paddocks as well as on the camping site, with a big gap to the next team. Easy to imagine that we were also the first team which starts to organize the paddock. While other teams were finding their way into their paddock one after another, the TUfast Eco Team was preparing the car for the “Technical Inspection” and the test drives on Friday. For the inspection, first, the mounting for the joule meter has to be manufactured in the paddock due to the fact that the size of the joule meter was not in the regulations and not official accessible.

 

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Friday – the first lap on track

 

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At the “Technical Inspection” we have only to fight with language problems. After passing the inspection successfully, we were the first in the row to go on the track for our first test run.
Both of our new drives were ready to go on the track. With an increasing number of vehicles on the track our drivers had to fight with the traffic. This was the first time the drives met other vehicles on the road, because during our test runs, at the area of the faculty of mechanical engineering, the traffic was never simulated. But with a great teamwork with our track guards next to the track, they mastered the situation and avoided any contact with other vehicles.

 

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In our first test heat we had too fast lap times but with more time on the track we could improve our lap times and we were getting close to an average speed of 25km/h. A successful day and a great experience for our drivers. But the works in the paddock continued. Bearings were changed, the drive chain has been cleaned, aerodynamic parts were optimized and the electronics were checked.

Saturday – it’s getting serious

Well rested and satisfied with the experience made on the previous day, we once again were the first in row and could not wait to go on the track. First everything went well, the average speed was good and we could follow our strategy. At half-time of our stint we had problems with the traffic again. Especially in the turning corners we had issues with slow vehicles in front of us. The majority of the teams were rolling out in those corners. This was neck breaking for our strategy, because we want to go through the corners with full speed. Two times we overtook our competitors there. Therefore we have got a warning from the officials. From now on we are not allowed to overtake anymore in those corners or we would risk to get disqualified. And then it happened. We could not overtake one competitor before the entry of the curve and the gap between eLi15 and the vehicle in front of us was not enough. Our driver Julia has to brake. A great loss of energy. But it was the only option we had, to avoid an accident and, so, no result in our first run. Furthermore, we would have blocked the track there which would cause a race stop and with this no result for all teams.

This experience would help us in the second run in the afternoon. Every team member next to the track who was connected via radio was told to analyze the distance to the vehicle in front or behind our eLi15 and pass the information around via radio.

 

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This kind of teamwork worked very well and we could avoid unnecessary deceleration in the second run. Important for us, is to keep our strategy and go through the corners with full speed as often as possible. Our strategy worked. We could nearly double the result of the first run. Because of our unbelievable result judges were coming to our paddock and wanted to have a closer look on eLi15. Three hours later, after checking every single detail of our electronics, the result became official. Finally, competition day 2 ended with the Off-Track Award ceremony.

In the paddock the work went on. eLi15 was put on the test bench. With the knowledge of having a good vehicle this season, we wanted to go further and had some hours spent at the test bench.

 

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Sunday- push the boundaries

On Sunday we had only one run in the morning and we were warmly welcomed by the southern French sun. No clouds in the sky- perfect conditions. We checked our electronics and were once again the first in the row to go on the track. But suddenly… The motor was making unknown sounds and the wheel did not make a single move.

With united forces we searched for the failure, while waiting in the queue. The search did take too long and we had to make space for our competitors. Just a few minutes left and the start window would have be closed. But then… An insulation of was loosed while transporting eLi15 from the paddock to the start gate causing an incorrect control of the motor.

Within a few moments the failure was fixed by working on the transport box of our sponsor MayTec. As last team starting the third and last competition run we had a better initial situation than other teams. The sun was shining brighter and delivered more power for our solar cells. Also many teams changed their strategy and copied ours which means that we had not to overtake all the time. After some laps other teams were finishing their run and so the track was getting emptier with each lap.

 

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Right after the run it was getting exciting. In our paddock our telemetry data was plotted while the judges read-out the joule meters. In parallel, everything was removed from the paddock and the camping site to save some time and come back home as soon as possible, because the Shell Eco-marathon was just one week ahead. And then. Finally, the values of the last run were announced on the homepage of the event; unbelievable 1888km/kWh. Just a few minutes later, we get congrats from all sides. Even the local press came around and asked for an interview.

Crowning ending was the award ceremony. Especially for two of our team members this moment was very special. Philipp Wurdak and David Kalwar, those team members, who were part of the team since its founding in 2009. For the first time in the teams’ history the first prize in the Battery Electric Prototype class went to the TUfast Eco Team. Even more, we have been awarded the “Grand Prix” in the Prototype class.

At this point we want to thank all supporters, which go along with us for many years, now and guided us through all highs and lows. We hope we honor all the support which was given us, with this prize and hope for a continue of the good cooperation in the next years.

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Furthermore, congrats to the winner of the “Grand Prix” in the Urban Concept class: Polyjoule, which were not just paddock neighbors but become our friends during the competition.

Find more pictures on our Flickr page

Posted in Allgemein.