Justin Clarke will start his senior year of high school this fall. Before then, though, he and the 20 or so other student members of the West Philly Hybrid X/EVX Team (along with seven instructors) are participating in the Automotive X-Prize Knockout Stage in Brooklyn, MI this week and have a message to the other teams: "we're confident." And well they should be; they've outlasted a lot of teams that were backed by more money, more age and more experience. Clarke told AutoblogGreen that even if his team doesn't win, "I can take away that we beat out teams that we didn't think we'd beat."
We've been following the story of the kinds on the high-school team from the West Philadelphia High School Academy for Automotive and Mechanical Engineering since their appearance on the stage with their K-1 Attack kit car back in 2008. A lot has changed since then – the team is now running a modified Ford Focus in the event, for example, and Clarke wasn't even on the team back then – but their enthusiasm remains.
With support from ExxonMobil and others, the West Philly team passed the inspection during the Knockout Stage and is waiting to hear about the rest of the trial results. Whether or not they win, the students have been inspired by the competition. Clarke said getting to ride around on Zap Zappy scooters at the Michigan International Speedway made a lot of the kids want to build their own. Another project that the team is considering once the X-Prize wraps up: making an all-electric Formula 1 car. As for the EVX Focus, Clarke said they'd like to build more units and get them entered into the non-profit Philly Car Share program. With these kids, the ideas never stop coming.