• May 10th 2010 at 2:57PM
  • 20
Wikispeed SGT01 – Click above for high-res image gallery

In Hawaiian, wiki-wiki means fast (actually, fast-fast). On the Internet, wiki has come to mean collaboration. In the Automotive X-Prize, Wikispeed isn't a redundant phrase, but the name of a team that is building a modular vehicle intended to be very fuel efficiently. It still uses gas, "just a lot less of it."

This is the message of the Wikispeed team, which has entered a vehicle called the SGT01 into the competition. Some ideas in the SGT01 are ones we've seen before – build a lightweight car, a DIY mentality – but the open-source, volunteer-based team is, as best we can tell, unique in the X-Prize. It's not just the participants in the project that are flexible, but the car itself.

Team founder Joe Justice is trying to make the car as modular as possible, because he wanted to be able to prototype the parts separately. He was very careful to lay out the connections so that things were easy to put in and take out, said team member John Justice, who has been involved in the effort for about three months (also, Wikispeed is a bit of a family affair). The engine, for example, is on a cradle and can be completely swapped out with a new one in an hour or an hour an a half. When the car first went into the tech inspection at the Michigan International Speedway, X-Prize officials gave the team a list of things that needed to be altered. Ninety minutes later, the car was stripped down to the frame and the team got working on making those changes. What did the judges want? More support in the engine cradle, a change to the suspension design, a different type of latch on the canopy and different kinds of seats. Not exactly easy alterations, but when we stopped by the team garage, everyone in an orange team Wikispeed shirt was busy trying to get the tasks done. Joe organized his team of volunteers, family and some contract help, who all swarmed around the car in the MIS garage issuing and following orders. Most members had only met each other the week of the competition, while the car has been the works since Joe shifted his mechanical focus from tuning sports cars for speed to environmental concerns in 2008.

One of the alternations was a new set of seats, which had already been fixed by the time we visited. The team had fabricated their own seats out of sheet iron to make them perfectly match the shape of the car. "But we found out this is a contest that changes," John Justice told AutoblogGreen, "and sometimes the requirements are only clear when you show up here and that's just the way it is." So, instead of the homemade seats, the team went scrambling to find certified seats and installed them. "I think it was something that wasn't specified," John said, adding that some requirements are part of the X-Prize's rules and some things are part of standard automotive regulations. As for the list of things that still needed doing, John was confident in the team. "We're making really good progress. We're close," he said. The latest from the team is:
After learning that we had not passed our final inspection, the team was given four hours to submit an appeal to stay in the competition. We completed and filed the appeal document and organized the workspace while waiting to hear the results. We wanted to be ready to get back to work on the car.
When up and running, the SGT01 weighs around 1,300 lbs and has a simulated miles per gallon rating of 114 highway / 104 city using the EPA's Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule models. The car's calculated top speed is 149 miles per hour. Should the car ever make it to market, the target price is $20,000. Read more about the car here.

Photos by Sebastian Blanco / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      From the begining i thought this would be great but all it's done is shown almost (pretty much) failure after failure... Damn after finally having to swerve out of the path of a deer i know that these tests are necessary.
      As for the 10 million, i'm surpirzed ppl aren't trying harder. To obtain 100mpge, shouldn't be hard for electric just need the areodynamics for hwy and to be on a diet for city (this car wins i'd say) but there always will be something. look at suvs their big problem is they kill anything in their path. (ya ur safe) why not use this money to create a safety control center for avoidance. To prevent an accident is better then to just walk away from ur wrecked car. off topic sorry

      As Evan said if everyone had the same chasis they could have used this to show how changing different aspects (motor, suspension and body) will change the distance & driving dynamics. Then it could be laid out on paper for comparisons as to best bang for the buck.
      As were seeing for the different layouts not all designs are worth the effort. I was hoping that the aptera would ease through it lol. I guess as the saying goes if it's to good to be true, it probably ain't i had such high hopes it would be out already it's been forever it feels
      • 5 Years Ago
      perhaps a door to get in and out of the car would be interesting at some point. I'm just saying :)
      I like the direction of the weight but could have been done much better with simply a composite foam core sandwich floor plate and strong door sill beams. there is room for quite a bit of composite strength in the wind shadow between the front and rear wheels.
      bolt on a few seats, put on a battery pack etc etc
      offers the smooth aerodynamic underside that benefits the car as well as very layout friendly high strength. I'm not saying it's brilliant but it is :)
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looks legit! Where can i throw down a deposit? LOL

      Check out the status updates for a good laugh:

      Look at the 'about' page... looks like a bunch of computer nerds trying to build an open source car.. ha. I think a Yugo would be an improvement..
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just like in open source software, the design might be functional, but the user experience (ergonomics + looks + usability) is very poor.

        The problem is that most of these geeks see no value in working with talented designers. They see open source as a way to do whatever they want without having to please a client, boss or user.

        Next time, each team should be forced to have an ergonomist *and* a designer on board. At least Aptera got that one down.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Haha, yea. Reminds me of the solar car team at my college. They knew their way around power electronics, but couldn't design or fabricate anything with a higher quality than a 3rd grader playing with legos.

        With $10M in prizes at stake, you would think these people would be able to show up with something that could pass *a* test. Heck, I didn't get paid a dime for working on my FSAE team, and the stuff we made could blow almost every one of these cars out of the water.
        • 5 Years Ago
        NP :)

        I like how they had to re-weld the suspension back on the car after the first inspection, lol.

        Comedy, dude... Comedy. This is like a junior high auto shop project, possibly even worse.
        Annnnddd... this is why green cars get laughed at by right wingers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        From their blog:

        "We had a great time and only managed to do $700 worth of damage to our rented Elise."

        WHAT!? I hope they're kidding.

        Thanks for the link, I got a good laugh out of it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yup, you hit the nail on the head about open source.
        There are some great open source projects out there, but many of them have had input and direction from big corporations.

        Turns out that anarchy doesn't work great in car design either, haha

        There really need to be one or two people overlooking the whole thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What is their raison d'être?

      Sincerely, Neil
        • 5 Years Ago
        Is it light weight? 1,300 pounds ain't too bad, I guess. But I seriously doubt that it has a top speed anywhere near 149mph -- the thing is a box!

        Sincerely, Neil
      • 5 Years Ago
      Before blindly trashing an all-volunteer (keyword: VOLUNTEER) why don't you bother to:
      1. Have a little respect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respect
      2. Read the facts http://sites.google.com/site/teamwikispeed/announcements/worksummarymonday-thursdayatpiaxpshakedown
      3. Grow a pair and so something like this yourself http://wonderfulworldofwikispeed.blogspot.com/2010/05/wikispeed-pics-from-shakedown-part-1.html

      I'm mainly talking to you @neptronix and @jason. Until you show you can do the following better, kindly shut up.

      I happen to know many of the VOLUNTEER members of team Wikispeed and commend on a job well done. Wikispeed effectively tied for 13th in the mainstream class of the Automotive X Prize beating out the likes of Tesla Motors and MIT all while maintaining their day jobs.

      James Britton
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was really hoping to see Neil Young at MIS... Though LincVolt proves a point, after a fashion, I think something equally charming (a Corvair? A Vega? A 70s Monza?) with a scaled version of the LincVolt's drivetrain, would have been cool... Say a Monza with a CNG-powered Rotary/Electric hybrid drivetrain...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I lose more and more respect for this competition with every passing day...
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know what you mean. A gallery of failwhale.
        I haven't paid much attention to automotive x-prize competitons or anything, but it must be kinda depressing over there. There are a maybe 3 teams tops that i would consider to be legit, zap and aptera being 2 of those.. lol
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good response.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Zap! and Aptera? Really?

      I'm thinking Tango is a real (and truly innovative) solution... one that may dissolve into the sands of history because of two potentially fatal flaws, neither of which have anything to do with how well the product works: Really awful styling execution & astronomical price.

      Seriously, if someone like a Warren Buffett walked up, put an investment behind Tango like he did for BYD and I think you could see a truly innovative, American car there. The proportions are odd but, frankly, odd enough that you could do something really cool, no holds barred. Instead, it uses, what, a Tracker door (which forces a windshield angle), headlamps from "something else" and form development that no OEM would pass through to production. Even Zap! does this kind of thing better (which may be how such a dubious bunch still live to see the light of day, even after a ton of failures & bad press).

      I know that this is the only one of the X-prizers that I actually want to drive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too bad all this energy and money is going into reinventing the car. That has already been done pretty well and these current experiments have antecedent dead ends in the early 20th century. Seems to me that the effort should be expended in developing new power trains, not new bodies, chassis, and suspensions.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I totally agree with you. This is where all the alternate car companies / teams fail: trying to reinvent the car!

        With such little resources, it is a waste of time IMO.... and as always.. a traditional, proven car layout wins out. There is some wiggle room there, but not much. Not if you want to sell the car to the American public.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes!!!! It would be so much better if the Automotive X-Prize gave each team an identical rolling chassis. Then they could really test which team has the best technology, instead of being which team's chassis doesn't fall apart.
      • 5 Years Ago
      You guys really make me laugh...

      "When up and running, the SGT01 weighs around 1,300 lbs and has a stimulated miles per gallon rating of 114 highway / 104 city using the EPA's Urban Dynamometer Driving Schedule models."

      Pray tell, do we want to know what kind of stimulation they use to get up and running?
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