The vehicle from Illuminati Motor Works, called Seven, was in bits strewn about the team's garage bay at the Automotive X-Prize Knockout Stage in Brooklyn, MI this week. Sure, the car can be put back together quickly and did make it to the track when requested, but not everything is going smoothly for the team from Springfield, IL.
The Seven is a fully-electric car and is also the last all-electric car left standing in the mainstream class. We spoke with team leader/engineer Kevin Smith, who told us that one of the team's problems is that the Seven can't fully charge right now because the batteries aren't conditioned. Illuminati built the 30 kWh pack itself from purchased cells. After the Shakedown Stage in April, the seven-member team needed to take the car apart and work on improvements (a trend that was kept alive when we saw the car – note the missing headlight, which was being repaired) and the battery pack couldn't charge during that time. In fact, the pack needs "dozens" of charges (maybe more) to fill up, with each successive charge holding a bit more juice. This not only hurts the team because they can't get the maximum number of electrons into the car, but also because of the way the AXP judges measure the energy used. The car is filled up, then the tests are run, then the car is charged up again and the energy used is measured. Since the Seven takes in a bit more electricity with each charge, the AXP thinks the car has used more energy than it actually did, Smith explained.
Still, last we heard, the Seven averaged 119.8 miles per gallon equivalent over the three efficiency tests, so there's potential that we'll see this one during the finals stage if they can muster up enough range out of the pack for the distance tests. Maybe Voodoo Steve, the foam being that appeared under the rear window one night, will help.