Archive for the ‘Shakedown’ Category
I do believe that this is the first video of the white ZAP Alias X PRIZE competition vehicle to air on YouTube back in May. The ZAP Alias fan who made this must have seen it driving around Toledo, Ohio immediately before the Shakedown for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE. Speedway Tire & Auto let us use their racing shop on turn 4 of the Toledo Speedway to do some last minute fine-tuning and this must have been in one of the nearby neighborhoods.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine seeing a totally exotic electric car whizzing down a quiet Midwest road at night with its single, bright LED headlight, probably a lot like a UFO sighting. This person must have done what any self-respecting person would have, pulled out their video camera. The next best thing always seems to be, you guessed it, a camera phone.
Well, after months of anticipating the revelation of this car at Michigan International Speedway for Shakedown, to say that we were somewhat disappointed that someone leaked our new car was an understatement. But in retrospect, it’s all good. We have a good idea who made this video, and Sean, all we have to say to you is: nice work! Excellent song selection. Keep on doing those cool card tricks and making creative videos. Bezt!
Popular Mechanics Features ZAP Alias Electric Car in Automotive X PRIZE Finals Coverage
A Popular Mechanics cover-story gives the Alias electric car from ZAP 4-1 odds to win the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE as the remaining seven teams move onto dynamometer efficiency testing and validation this month at Argonne National Lab.
“A solid effort from a proven electric-car builder,” writes John Pearley Huffman in the September 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics, on news stands now. From the original 136 vehicles entered in the X PRIZE, ZAP is among the nine remaining vehicles moving onto laboratory efficiency validation to determine the final winner, which will be announced in September.
The Popular Mechanics article features photos and coverage of several competitors from the XPRIZE, including FVT’s Evaro, Li-Ion Motors’ Wave II, Edison2, Western Washington University’s Viking 45, RaceAbout, X-Tracer, Illuminati Motor Works Seven and Aptera’s 2e.
The photo shoot was done in May immediately following the Shakedown. The ZAP Team said it was a high point of the three-year competition. In the months and weeks building up to the XPRIZE Shakedown event team ZAP was often working 16 hour days and this was the first time the team was able to relax and reflect on its accomplishments. While many teams struggled and were eliminated from continuing in the competition, the Alias performed beautifully, earning fans while proving three-wheelers can easily match the performance of four-wheelers. Popular Mechanics photographer Joe Pugliese turned a garage at Michigan International Speedway into a photo studio.
Thank you to Popular Mechanics for opening a window to the X PRIZE for the outside world, highlighting these new breakthroughs in MPG efficiency.
Thankz, Al! – from Everyone at ZAP
Little Al loving a green-car competition
By John Marshall, AP Sports WriterAl Unser Jr. has lived a pedal-to-the-floor life, toddling around the pits as his famous father raced around the track, winning his sport’s biggest prize twice himself, becoming a teacher to the next generation of open-wheel stars.
So when he was asked to gear back during the Automotive X-Prize, a competition that’s supposed to be more innovation than acceleration, well, you know what happened.
“I just wanted to see what it could do,” Unser said.
Curiosity is what got Unser behind the wheel in the first place, pairing a man used to high-decibel, low-miles-per-gallon speed machines with a Star-Wars-pod-looking prototype electric car not much louder than a dishwasher.
Turned out to be a perfect match.
It started two years ago, when a friend told Unser about the Zap Alias, a prototype electric car that could hit freeway speeds and had a range of 100 miles.
The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner was intrigued by a drawing of the car and contacted Zap, forming a relationship between one of the fastest drivers in the world and a company at the forefront of alternative-fuel transportation.
So when Zap needed someone to drive the Alias in the Automotive X-Prize, a $10 million competition to develop super fuel-efficient cars, Unser didn’t hesitate.
“I told them I’d love to be a part of it,” he said.
There is a certain irony to Unser’s pairing with an alternative-fuel vehicle.
Al Unser Jr. does a warm-up in the parking lot of Michigan International Speedway at the PIAXP Shakedown. This is the first time he drives the ZAP Alias.
Team ZAP Alias has a Talented, Diverse, and International Cast of Characters
Spirits are high in Santa Rosa, California where the ZAP Alias team read the announcement that it has been cleared for the knockout stage in the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE (PIAXP) starting June 20th at Michigan International Speedway. Maybe that’s because this is more than just a competitive team in a 100+ MPGe vehicle contest, but the design and engineering department for a company on a 15-year mission to bring more electric transportation to the people.
Of course it always helps when one of your biggest ZAP Alias fans is none other than Indy 500 racing legend Al Unser Jr. Many of the team members are still star-struck that Al is driving for Team ZAP even though they have gotten to know the man on a first-name-basis, having eaten meals with, worked with and enjoyed great success with at the recent Shakedown Stage of the PIAXP. Naturally many observers are saying that it was Al Unser Jr.’s driving that helped ZAP through the Shakedown, but Al keeps saying, “I’m only as good as the car I’m driving.”
And much of the work on the X PRIZE entry of the ZAP Alias over the past three years has been something the ZAP Team has done between other projects that are just as important and competitive as the X PRIZE. Imagine working on building a 100 MPGe car, while also engineering a Postal Vehicle for the United States Postal Service, electric fleet trucks for the US Military and universities, vans for companies like Genetech, an electric SUV taxi for the China fleet market, an electric utility ATV, AND a variety of lithium battery packs for upgrading its line of electric vehicles. And, these are just the projects that aren’t top secret.
This team has a diverse makeup of veteran automotive engineers, seasoned automotive technicians, youthful, enthusiastic talent, electric vehicle pioneers and master automotive craftsmen. Team leader Gary Starr has been working on electric vehicles for more than 35 years, having built his first electric car in college. Together with Chuck Turney, a master automotive designer and builder with 35 years experience working for the Detroit Auto Industry, Starr and Turney have an ideal blend of leadership for a team building electric cars of the future.
With several young engineers and technicians, the ZAP Team has proven to be a dynamic combination of talent and ingenuity. Some of the team graduated from universities in mechanical and electrical engineering and design, including Joseph Rajakaruna, Frederic Marangone, and Prashanth Radhakrishnan.
The team also has loads of automotive experience. We mentioned Chuck Turney’s auto experience, with companies like GM, Magna and other automotive suppliers in nearly every phase of automotive design and production. Joseph Rajakaruna has experience with Honda through a University partnership as well as working with Ford supplier Visteon Automotive. Frederic Marangone spent some time with Peugeot and Opel. Automotive technician Aubre Decker brings 16 years of hands-on automotive technical experience. Machinist Ben Conrad who had experience working on drag racers, started as a welder with ZAP and now does the primary machine and fabrication.
It doesn’t stop there with the diverse experience. The youngest team member, Prashanth Radhakrishnan, has spent time working on the Google Lunar X PRIZE involved in, literally, rocket science. And to prove that it takes all kinds of experiences to build cars, one team member, Brandon Kincaid, has prior experience working on roller coaster cars at Sandusky Ohio’s Cedar Point Amusement park, not to mention being involved in every Alias build to date. Throw in with that Starr’s experience in the design and creation of thousands of electric cars, trucks, conversions, bicycles, scooters, mopeds, motorcycles, and ATVs, and you have an automotive design and engineering team that relishes the challenge of 100+ MPGe cars.
The team also has a distinct international flavor. Joseph Rajakaruna was born in Sri Lanka, Frederic Marangone in France, and Prasanth Radhakrishnan in India. Gary Starr is a native to the Bay Area of California; Charles Turney and Brandon Kincaid come from Toledo, Ohio; and Dave Aultman from Michigan bring more than 30 years experience in the auto industry. And a big thanks to Mike and Dave from Speedway Tire & Auto of Toledo. Oh yeah, and thanks to Alex Campbell for his crazy 19 years of trying to educate the world about how electric cars can become a commercial reality.
We are proud of the talent gathered at ZAP, but let us not forget all the others who have made this possible, every customer, stakeholder, employee, partner, contractor, supplier, dealer, as well as their friends and family members, for their commitment to transportation alternatives. In particular, thanks to ZAP CEO Steve Schneider and Chairwoman Priscilla Lu for all their support, which has been so very important to the Alias.
Thank you to the other teams. It was an exciting atmosphere in the team garage during Shakedown when teams found a spirit of collaboration. The challenge of 100+ MPGe is bigger than us all, and we found this particularly with our garage neighbor Team Wikispeed. Though in the end their beautiful dream of a 100+ MPGe race car wasn’t ready for the Shakedown, their teamwork and determination earned the respect and admiration of everyone in the garage as well as a standing ovation. We helped where we could, but when we needed help they also found the time to reach out to us. Such was the positive energy in that garage. It was truly an awesome, inspiring and rewarding experience. This is the energy we need to harness.
And a big thank you in advance to the most important member of the ZAP Team: You. It is you reading this now whom we want to reach out to and who ultimately has the power make the Alias a reality by showing your support and commitment to the project. In the end, true success will be gauged by the satisfaction of our customers, and we invite you join the ZAP Team. Join our email list, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, keep commenting and sending in your feedback, and letting us know what you ‘Like’ and finally, reserve your ZAP Alias today – nothing can help the team more, and by doing so you can help ensure the bright future of electric transportation. Thank you.
BusinessWeek/Bloomberg included the ZAP Alias in their roundup of new designs waiting in the wings as the GM Volt and Nissan Leaf are scheduled to come out later this year. The picture is worth a thousand words, but the article deftly raises four important issues about ZAP in a short space: 1) It confirms that ZAP’s futuristic electric car has progressed into the next round of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE; 2) It notes ZAP’s business model of partnering with China to build electric vehicles; 3) It mentions that ZAP has “promised EVs that didn’t materialize in the past” but with over 117,000 units of a diverse range of electric vehicles delivered, could they be more specific? and 4) The ZAP Alias is scheduled for availability in ‘Late 2010,’ that is, of course, if you have placed your reservation. It doesn’t squeeze between cars, burn gas, balance on 2 wheels, or fold… but it drives pretty darn well as you can see here and here.
Read More: BusinessWeek/Bloomberg: ‘Fully Charged’
A beautiful day for a drive in the Michigan countryside. Al Unser Jr. takes the wheel as the ZAP Alias undergoes durability testing. Cars are required to make it 20 times around a 1.88 mile course in less than an hour. Thanks to Prashanth Radharkrishnan for providing video.
The ZAP Alias undergoes the Consumer’s Union Double Lane Change test at the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE Shakedown taking place May 5, 2010 at Michigan International Speedway. The cars are required to maneuver through a cone course simulating a potential surprise obstacle in the roadway. Based on the “Moose Test” that originated in Sweden. To pass the Shakedown Phase a car needs to make the maneuver at 45 MPH or above. Driven by Al Unser Jr. Thanks to Ben Conrad for additional footage.
Tuesday morning started out cold, windy and early for the ZAP Alias team, but sunny. Had an 8am appointment with Technical Inspection to approve a few small last minute safety changes for the electrical system. From there we went to charging inspection when we had a surprise visit from our newest team member.
Team ZAP Alias has been asked this question a lot lately — what would it do with the $2.5 million dollar prize money if it won the side-by-side Alternative Class of the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE (PIAXP)? It’s a hypothetical question at best, and when you ask a hypothetical question, you’ll usually get a hypothetical answer.
But somehow taking a trip to Tahiti, giving everyone raises after grueling 18 hour days, or paying off all our bills, somehow falls flat. Why? It is WAY too early to start thinking about winning. The Alias hasn’t even completed the Shakedown stage and still has yet to qualify for the Knock-Out Stage (June 20-28), not to mention the Finals (July 2010, Date TBD).
Many who are attracted to the Alias’s stunning design and learn about PIAXP don’t realize that this isn’t a beauty contest. For PIAXP, it’s what’s inside that counts. The rigorous driving courses for durability, acceleration, braking, dynamic stability, lane-changing, efficiency and more will challenge every aspect of every vehicle. Looks may be the Alias’ strongest point, but it won’t count one iota towards victory. This is a contest pitting vehicles against one-another for efficiency, emissions, performance, safety and manufacturability.
And have you seen the competition? The field has narrowed down to 28 teams with 36 vehicles, 13 vehicles in our class alone. If we were only doing this for the money we might have entered the mainstream class where there are 13 vehicles competing for double the prize money, $5 million. Or, we might be much better off joining the 8 vehicles competing for the $2.5 million prize in the Tandem class, much better odds by far.
The PIAXP is still anybody’s race. Each team is bringing a different approach to the competition and at this point any one of them could take home the prize. None of them would have made it this far after so many years if they didn’t have some innovation that gives them a competitive edge. Feel free to look over our competition for the $2.5 million and you will see what we mean.
Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE
Side-by-side Alternative Class
- Raceabout Electric
- Tata Motors
- Team EVI
- Team EVX
- West Philly EVX
- Western Washington University
- ZAP Alias
If you have been following ZAP since 2007 you would know that the company has been committed to building the Alias since before the PIAXP was announced. A freeway capable vehicle has been a dream of ours for a long time, since 2002, but for some of us much longer. The competition itself mirrors our philosophy of commercializing electric cars and plays right into our competitive strengths: 1) a three-wheeled approach for greater efficiency, lower production and purchase cost, as well as excellent handling; 2) lithium battery technology, which helps fill the performance demands for a larger number of consumers of freeway speeds and a 100-mile range; and 3) lightweight composite and aluminum safety cage construction, which helps with performance, efficiency and safety.
One of the best opportunities of the PIAXP is the competition itself, which brings an unprecedented visibility to high MPG innovations that will help lead the industry into the future. In a way it has already helped us accomplish our goals, having signed an agreement this year with Zhejiang Jonway Automobile Co. Ltd to manufacture the Alias in China. The $2.5 million would be the perfect jolt to accelerate the start of production on the Alias sooner, rather than later. Perhaps it will attract other forms of financing and expand production opportunities in the United States.
Another positive thing to come out of competing in the PIAXP is attracting an amazing team with diverse backgrounds, from roller coaster building, to race car building, to rocket designing, to race car driving. We have members from Sri Lanka, India, China, France, and even Detroit. We love meeting other teams, wish them equal luck and hope many of us can work together in the future. So, in the end a 1-13 chance of winning $2.5 million is better than the lottery, but at ZAP we are confidant that we can come out a winner even if we don’t win the PIAXP.
Day 2 at the Shakedown for the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize at Michigan International Speedway was the first of three inspection days, where each car must pass inspection for a list of basic mechanical and electrical standards to ensure safety and integrity. The process took several hours and the ZAP Alias faired better than most other vehicles. Only 3 team members could be in the inspection garage at a time, but the other members were nearby to run for tools and parts. The ZAPPY3 was very useful for running errands and saving time walking all the way to the garage. ZAP had to make a handful of small modifications back at the garage. It was all hands on deck, and required some trips to the store. Gary couldn’t resist stopping at an antique store. Nearly all the teams were running around making modifications. ZAP helped other teams and received help from others. Thanks to Team Wikispeed for letting us use their cirucular saw. The process took all day and we were nearly finished by 8 pm when they closed the garage and it started to rain again. The Alias is up for inspection first thing tomorrow morning. An exhausting day, but exciting. Cross you fingers that we pass so we can start driving the car.