Monday Morning Quarterbacks

As you may have heard by now, the West Philly Hybrid X Team’s journey in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE came to an end. Friday was a difficult day – the fuel economy numbers came in and we were 1.9 MPG shy of the requirement. We had encountered some serious charging problems and the evacuation of the charging tent due to a tornado didn’t help our situation so, like several teams, we filed an appeal. Friday was an emotional rollercoaster.

While we waited several hours for the X PRIZE officials to review our request, we reviewed our Battery Management data card. We drove 136 miles over two days of very aggressive drive cycles (I mean VERY aggressive) and our car had actually averaged 78 MPGe. Just as impressively, the EVX Focus was the ONLY car in its heat that did not pit or have some last minute mechanical problem – it worked flawlessly.

And perhaps most impressively, when the Harley Engine kicked in, well, everyone on the track knew it. During the highway drive cycle, we were supposed to average 50 mph. Have you even known a Harley to drive at 50 mph? I tried my best to keep it at 50, but it complained and grumbled. Eventually, like any good parent, I gave in – and at 58 mph, it purred like a kitten.

As I lapped Aptera and Al Unser Jr., who was driving the Zap, I knew that they thought I did not know what I was doing. In fact I was well aware of what I was doing – I was lapping one of the world’s most famous drivers on HIS track. When I lapped the Aptera, I was passing a car that travels in a team trailer that cost 5 times our entire budget. I knew what I was doing and I was enjoying it. But as the day came to an end, so did our dreams of upsetting the multi-million dollar teams we were up against.


And Monday morning always arrives. What if? What if we paid more attention to our charger – created a kick-off switch so when the charger got unplugged it didn’t just spin its wheels and waste electricity? What if we had more time to perfect our charging algorithm so that we were not “overfilling” our batteries? What if we had a few other minor details in order? The answers to those questions are as exhilarating as they are painful. The answer is that we would be standing next to the final two teams left in the Mainstream division. How cool would that have been?


Our game plan was right on, our cars ran perfectly, and our kids amazed everyone who had the pleasure of meeting them. We proved to the world that a bunch of high school kids and their teachers can build a safe, affordable, American made car that gets over 75 mpg (over 100 mpg on the highway). This is a real car that has a real business plan. It was built by real kids and what they have done has real significance.


I want to thank you all for your support. And while Monday mornings are difficult, we could not have made it to this Monday without you.




Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.