Penn Electric Racing Powers Up

A group of about 40 graduate and undergraduate students from the School of Arts and Sciences, Penn Engineering and Wharton, is preparing to show the world what they have been working on for the last five years: an all-electric race car.

The carbon-fiber-clad Renegade is a product of Penn Electric Racing, a student-run, interdisciplinary club of engineers and designers who aim to push the envelope of what electric vehicles can do.

"We want to help the general public, and the University community, understand EV (electric vehicle) technology, and the benefits both environmentally and economically of driving EVs," says team captain and Penn Engineering student William Price.

Penn Electric Racing grew out of the University’s solar racing group, founded in 1989. But the club has expanded its focus to include other electric power sources, and now it wants to change the public perception of electric vehicles.

Environmentally friendly cars such as the hybrid Toyota Prius, or the all-electric Nissan Leaf, are often seen as sacrificing power for sustainability. But Penn’s Renegade has been specially designed to handle electric car drag races, high-performance competitions that test cars’ acceleration and handling at top speeds.

The Penn Electric Racing club plans to unveil its Renegade in mid-April, and hopes to compete in a National Association of Electric Drag Racers competition by the end of that month.

Beyond putting an electric vehicle on a racetrack, club members hope to put them in peoples’ garages; next steps include designs that they hope will eventually end up being made into street-legal cars.

Text by Evan Lerner

Video by Kurtis Sensenig