UK engineers launch build-it-yourself electric race car

Engineers from Birmingham City University and West Midlands automotive firm Westfield Sportscars have joined forces to develop what is claimed to be the world’s first self-build electric racing car kit.

In development since 2008, and launched at a time when interest in low carbon racing is growing significantly, the iRacer, which can be purchased for around £14k, enables the construction of a vehicle that can operate in a hybrid, pure electric or pure internal combustion engine modes. The purchase price does not include the powertrain (ie electric motors, battery unit or an engine).

Aimed at members of the public as well as students and school-kids, the kit has been inspired by the popular Formula Student competition, which has become a valuable testing ground for the next generation of engineers.

The product is the result of a wider collaboration between the University and Westfield, and though the iRacer is being sold as a product it’s viewed by the two partners as a live platform for continuous research, development and innovation in a number of areas, including weight and emissions reduction, and new types of battery technology.

The Birmingham City University team is also currently developing technologies that will enable mobile phones and tablet PCs to be used as driver display units.

Parmjit Chima, head of the university’s School of Engineering, Design and Manufacturing Systems at Birmingham City University, said, ‘The partnership will benefit students by developing a pipeline of valuable technical and employability skills, working on industry-led projects at the cutting edge of hybrid vehicle and full electric technology to aid the environmental agenda of reducing carbon emission.’