Saturday, 08 March 2008 00:00

Mayor of Philadelphia Announces West Philly Hybrid X Team's Official Entry in the Automotive X-Prize Competition

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PHILADELPHIA (March 7, 2008) -- Philadelphia Academies Inc., one of the nation’s leading nonprofit education and workforce development organizations, today announced that its West Philly Hybrid X Team, based at the West Philadelphia High School Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering, will be an official contender in the Automotive X PRIZE competition. Mayor Michael Nutter and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty joined Philadelphia Academies officials and students in making the announcement at Philadelphia’s City Hall.

The Automotive X PRIZE is a private, independent, technology-neutral competition developed by the X PRIZE Foundation. The Foundation has invited teams from around the world to focus on a single goal: design viable, clean and super-efficient cars that people want to buy. The prize will award a multimillion dollar purse to teams that can design, build and demonstrate production-capable vehicles that achieve 100 miles per gallon (MPG) or its energy equivalent (MPGe). On February 6, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution applauding the X PRIZE Foundation's leadership in inspiring a new generation of viable, super-efficient vehicles.The competition is open to all, including automakers and innovators. To date, the West Philly Hybrid X Team is among more than 50 teams that have submitted letters of intent to participate, including U.S. teams from several states including California, Louisiana, Michigan, New York and Texas, and international teams from Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The West Philly Hybrid X Team is one of two student teams entered to date, along with Cornell University. On March 20, members of the West Philadelphia team will travel to the New York International Auto Show in New York City for the official announcement of the launch of the Automotive X PRIZE competition where they, and other contenders, will be on hand to meet with the public and press.

The West Philadelphia High School Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering has built and raced alternative fuel vehicles, including electric, hybrid and bio-diesel, for the last nine years. As entrants in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association's Tour de Sol, the team outperformed university teams and production vehicles, winning the competition three of the six years they raced (2002, 2005 and 2006). In both 2005 and 2006, the Academy team won with its vehicle, The Hybrid K-1 Attack, a super fast, super fuel-efficient car that reinvented the hybrid vehicle from a bland econo-box to a fast and earth-friendly piece of automotive art.

For the X PRIZE competition, the Academy's West Philly Hybrid X Team plans to create a vehicle that will utilize existing technology in innovative ways to achieve ultra-low carbon emissions and ultra-high fuel economy. The team will design and create a prototype that achieves 100 MPG, is enjoyable to drive and uses technology that is affordable. All of this will be accomplished without sacrificing drivability and style.

"We stand to inherit the environmental problems created by our unrelenting consumption of oil. The car we build will help protect my future and that of the next generation," said Lawrence Jones-Mahoney, a student at West Philadelphia High School's Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering and member of the West Philly Hybrid X Team.

"In entering the competition, our team's mission is to provide a powerful example of how urban young people can impact climate change and create important roles for themselves in the new green economy," said Simon Hauger, Academy and team director. "The cars we develop and the students will be models for the future." According to Hauger and his students, the team plans to create a hybrid that has mass market demographic appeal, particularly to the young and urban markets that the school represents.

"The vehicle will be built on an affordable chassis and will be powered by a diesel-electric hybrid drive system," said student Calvin Harrington, also a member of the West Philly Hybrid X Team. It will be a true flex fuel plug-in hybrid that will burn diesel and biodiesel and have a state-of-the-art electric motor and battery back," he said.

"The team is committed to exceeding the 100 MPG requirement of the competition without sacrificing style, safety or affordability," Hauger added. "The long-term impact will be on air quality, particularly of urban communities that typically suffer disproportionately from the effects of pollution," he said.

For the team, Philadelphia Academies will serve as the primary conduit to corporate and academic partnerships, assisting with key technical support in the areas of curriculum integration, fundraising, public relations and the development of a comprehensive and achievable business plan. Several corporate partners, including Maaco, Sunoco, and others have already joined the team.

ABOUT PHILADELPHIA ACADEMIES, INC. AND WEST PHILADELPHIA HIGH SCHOOL ACADEMY FOR AUTOMOTIVE AND MECHNICAL ENGINEERINGPhiladelphia Academies, Inc. is a non-profit organization that expands life and economic options for Philadelphia public school students through career-focused programming that prepares young people for employment and post-secondary education. The Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering is a standalone 200-student annex of West Philadelphia High School that has been in existence for 20 years providing career and technical education to prepare students for post secondary education and automotive careers through the support of Philadelphia Academies, Inc. In 1998, Simon Hauger launched the Academy's innovative Electric Vehicle Program where he leads students in designing, building and competing with alternative fuel vehicles. (He drives a super fast biodiesel VW Jetta which his students built for him.) For more information about Philadelphia Academies or the West Philadelphia High School Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering, please visit: www.academiesinc.org.

ABOUT THE X PRIZE FOUNDATIONThe X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. On October 4, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The X PRIZE Foundation has since launched the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE and the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, and will continue to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the areas of life improvement, exploration, equity of opportunity and sustainability. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visitwww.xprize.org.

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