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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021

Electric Basic Utility Vehicle

Adeel Sultan

Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

Francisco Solares

Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

The demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is on the rise. However, the EV industry requires major technological developments before consumer-level EVs are able to compete with traditional gasoline powered vehicles. In 2018, the UWO Fox Cities Engineering Club built an electric basic utility vehicle (BUV) designed to assist in campus groundskeeping operations. The BUV seats two passengers and has a 4’x3’ cargo bed, while also capable of off-road operation and solar charging. This project gauges the efficacy of a custom built, consumer-level EV for utility and maintenance operations, as well as the effectiveness of on-board solar charging for typical vehicle usage. The BUV equals or outperforms a commercial golf cart in terms of performance, having a similar turning radius and peak horsepower, but a higher top speed and ground clearance in a smaller profile.

Project Background 

Performance testing of the BUV indicated comparability to a Club Car Precedent i3. The motor and controller used in the BUV were from an upgrade kit for a Precedent-tier golf cart. Performance testing yielded a top speed of 21 MPH, turning radius of 17.4 feet and a weight of 1,048 lb. Conducting these tests revealed mechanical weak points in the BUV’s drive train. As power was transferred to the differential from the motor, the entire rear axle gradually rotated upwards, introducing slack in the transmission chain. Additionally, the differential coupling which received power from the chain repeatedly failed and needed to be reinforced, first with bolts and then welding. These faults were remedied to restore functionality and increase transmission efficiency.

What Do You Think? 

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3 Comments

  1. Warren Vaz

    Great work! 🙂

    Reply
  2. David M. Jones

    Interesting; I would imagine another issue to evaluate the efficacy of using/adopting such a machine is its relative “hardiness/longevity,” i. e., does it perform well over long-time use. Have you contemplated or conducted any such tests?

    Reply
    • Adeel Sultan

      That’s a great question! The longevity of a vehicle like this would be easiest to determine given two conditions: consistent vehicle design and constant use of the vehicle. Regarding the former, we are continuously making modifications to the vehicle’s design, which makes it difficult to quantify longevity for a specific “machine.” Regarding the latter, our priority has always been increasing the vehicle’s functionality and capability: once we had a working vehicle, after conducting our performance tests, our goal was to implement solar charging capacity and RC operation, and there went our time and resources.
      Thanks for asking!

      Reply

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