If you think it's hard to find a plug for your electric vehicle, be glad you don't need to look for a Twitter friend every time you want to drive. But that's the restriction that a group of at-risk high school students built into their electric Kharmann Ghia as they attempt to drive from Kansas City to Washington, DC. The only way the car will move if is they kids gain followers and fans on social media. The team has attached Arduino electronics hardware to the electric vehicle drivetrain and programmed it to move the car forward only when people are Tweeting about it or sending other social media buzz.
The teens developed the electric 1967 VW Ghia as part of a Minddrive project, which was shown at the Kansas City International Autoshow in March. Minddrive says its teaching students how to use "social fuel" to get other people to support what they're doing. To move the car forward, followers are using the hashtag #MINDDRIVE or mentioning @minddriveorg on Twitter, Facebook likes and shares, Instagram follows and shares, and YouTube video plays, follows and shares.
As part of this year's Social Fuel Tour, Minddrive brought in digital marketing agency VML to work pro bono. Students are being taught how to get the word out about Minddrive and the program's corporate sponsors, and how to use social media in the work environment. Last year, a Minddrive student went on to work in social media outreach for the MLB All-Star Game.
With corporate sponsors having millions of connections on Twitter and Facebook, the electric Ghia should be able to glide right through to Washington, said Steve Rees, the programs director. The Karman Ghia is the third car electrified car in the Minddrive project – along with a 1977 Lotus Esprit and one built on the chassis of a converted Lola IndyCar.