Students get Ford down to a
A car that runs on compressed air has thrust a group of students on to the world stage, reports NEIL MCDONALD.
THEIR version of a next-generation 2015 Model T Ford earned Deakin University $30,000 in a global competition sponsored by Ford late last year.
Now Austrade wants to use a prototype of the car to push Victorian innovation and design at the World Expo in Shanghai this month.
Project leader Dr Bernard Rolfe admits the school has a tight timeframe in which to deliver.
“But it will be great to show off what we can do,” he said. “It’s an amazing opportunity.”
Dr Rolfe said he was surprised by the momentum building from the car, called T2, for t-squared. “We’ve had a lot of support,” he said. The burnt orange, three-wheeler was part of Ford’s 100th anniversary celebrations to commemorate the original Model T. The car was displayed at the Melbourne Motor Show and Dr Rolfe said the next step was to build the prototype for Shanghai. T2 uses some innovative solutions to design and engineering challenges.
In-wheel motors replace the conventional petrol engine, the wheels are carbon fibre and the body will be built using a high-strength metal laminate material designed by Canberra firm Elaco.
The Elaco material is both lightweight and reasonably elastic to cope with impacts.
T2 had to share the original Model T’s attributes of simplicity but also had to be light, practical, compelling and cheap.
Dr Rolfe said the car met those requirements, with a projected price of $9000.
The three-wheeler runs on compressed air and will turn 360 degrees on itself, making inner-city parking easy.
Dr Rolfe said he’d eventually like to see a consortium of technology partners and universities in Victoria to push the know-how of both students and the car industry.
New look: Deakin University’s Bernard Rolfe and the Model T2 Ford designed by students.