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Michelin Challenge Design
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Design: “LEEP Racing Team”
Designer: Robert Marvin
Country: USA
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Biography

Bob Marvin is the principal of Torque Consulting, focusing on integrated product innovation and marketing. He holds a BFA in Industrial Design from Mass. College of Art, an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and over 40 design and utility patents. Projects have included everything from consumer goods, medical products, toys and transportation, to a radio telescope array. He is a five-time selected finalist for Michelin Challenge Design.

Description

The high-profile sport of motor racing has long been a great source for passenger car technical innovation, but it doesn’t really address the vast tonnage of commercial truck transportation. Both areas are great targets for improved efficiency hybrid/electric vehicles.

The “LEEP” (Localized Electric Energy Production) racing series transporter is powered by a small, constant speed, low-velocity diesel engine, feeding power to kinetic energy storage, batteries and electric motors. As the transporter travels between race tracks, it is responsible for not only its own power, but for generating enough for the purely electric race car. On race day the engine is shut off and the cars must race only on the power made in transit. The races are not only won by speed on the track, but by judicious management of the transporter, balancing highway speed and terrain against energy storage against a hard ceiling of fuel consumption. (Race series would be by continent, much like Le Mans endurance racing.)

The race vehicle itself features two large battery pods, charged by the transporter, along with spares. The batteries are changed out during the race, in lieu of fueling at pit stops. The car is built around two electric motors, with variable contact patch tires for a combination of low-rolling resistance on straights and maximum traction for cornering and braking. LEEP is the exciting image of motor racing, pushing the technical envelope in the direction of environmental responsibility.

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