We can't imagine being an apprentice at Bentley leaves you a lot of spare time, what with your full class load on how to stitch the perfect steering wheel, match wood grains and build twin-turbo V8s with your bare hands. A team of nine apprentices comprising the Bentley Greenpower Team, however, have found the time over the past ten months to build an exceptional little electrical vehicle for the Greenpower Corporate Challenge that kicked off at the Goodwood race circuit yesterday.
Their car, dubbed the Continental DC, was developed using the same CAD software that Bentley uses for its own cars, and is powered by two 12-volt batteries and a 24-volt motor that's required by competition rules. The body is also based on Bentley's 2004 Goodwood soap box racer and is basically invisible to wind resistance. The use of carbon fiber to keep weight down is extensive, to say the least. The body, chassis, wheels and even a specially designed suspension with carbon fiber beams under tension are all made from the exotic weave. Despite being green as can be, the Continental DC still sports some flare from Crewe thanks to a single leather Bentley seat with a four-point harness, a custom Bentley-inspired steering wheel and Bentley "dashboard".
The Greenpower Corporate Challenge in which the Bentley Greenpower Team competed yesterday is the first of eight 90-minute endurance races that will comprise the season of "F24+" racing. 25 teams are entered, with 15 coming from universities and 10 from companies like the Bentley team. Having encountered some technical difficulties early on, the Continental DC didn't win the first race yesterday. But the team's perseverance to ultimately finish the race earned it the "Spirit of Greenpower" award, which is like the congeniality award for green geeks.
Bentley Racing Green
28 April, 2008Crewe, Monday 28th April 2008... A Bentley Motors apprentice team has won a special "Spirit of Greenpower" award for its performance in the Greenpower Corporate Challenge which took place at Goodwood race circuit yesterday. The Bentley apprentice team designed, engineered and built the electric powered car which they entered into the Greenpower Challenge as well as a season of "F24+" racing. The Bentley Greenpower car is called Continental DC (Direct Current) and runs off a 24-volt motor supplied by two 12-volt batteries. Designed for lightness and maximum power efficiency the one-seater Continental DC has a carbon fibre chassis and low resistance tyres.
Greenpower is a series of events which aims to promote greater interest in young people to follow careers in the fields of engineering and technology. The 2008 Greenpower corporate challenge held yesterday was the first race of the season. 25 teams entered, comprising 15 school entries and 10 company teams. The Bentley team achieved their goal of completing the four hour race, despite some technical difficulties in the first section. The award was given in recognition of their excellent team spirit which they showed in overcoming these initial technical challenges. The F24+ season consists of eight 90-minute endurance race events which will culminate in a grand final at Goodwood in October. Race tracks on the F24+ schedule include Dunsfold, Rockingham, Croft and Aintree.
The Bentley Motors team is composed of nine of the company's apprentices who are all following a three or four year apprenticeship scheme at the factory in Crewe. Margaret Cheshire, Head of People and Organisational Development at Bentley Motors said, "It's fantastic that the apprentices are not only gaining the technical skills associated with building a car but are also increasing their knowledge of other areas of the business such as finance, purchasing and public relations." She continued, "It's all about giving the individuals knowledge and expertise to be successful in their future careers after the completion of the Bentley apprenticeship programme."
Having taken the initiative themselves to compete in the Greenpower challenge the apprentices have devoted weekends and evenings for the past ten months taking full responsibility for all aspects of the car's development. Three team members acted as drivers on race day, the rest of the team provided essential back-up support in the pits.
Tom Hodgson, Greenpower team manager added, "In building the car we pooled the expertise and resources from across the business to produce a project of which we're all proud. Having completed our first race we now know what we have to do to be successful for the rest of the 2008 Greenpower season. The experience of developing a project from idea to race-day was exhilarating. It was also hugely satisfying to see the positive support from sponsors keen to help the Bentley team".
Technical highlights of the Bentley Greenpower car
- Its 24v Motor delivers 0.5bhp and 5.1 lb ft (7Nm):
- Top speed of 40mph (64km/h).
- Zero CO2 emissions.
- Chassis & design:
- Fixed carbon fibre suspension wishbones for maximum strength and minimum weight.
- Excellent roadholding and superior grip from unique 1x16" carbon fibre wheels with bespoke Michelin low resistance tyres.
- Rear grille matrix in chrome finish.
- Bentley Hide/Alcantara trimmed interior
- Specially built ECU to control motor/transmission
More information on the project is available at www.bentleygreenpower.com
Type 24v Wheelchair motor (Regulation)
Installation Transversely mounted, One-wheel drive
Power 240 Watt
Torque 7 Nm
Fuel Source 2 x 12 v Lead Acid Batterys
Type Continuous one-wheel drive
Gearbox Nuvinci CVP
Ratios Infinitely variable between 0.5 under and 1.75 overdrive
Top speed 40mph (64km/h).
Front Single wishbone rigid suspension
Rear Single wishbone rigid suspension
Type Rack & pinion,
Turns lock to lock 1
Turning circle (kerb to kerb) 19.2m
Rear 160mm ventilated disc (to single wheel)
Anti lock In development!
BODY & CHASSIS
Construction Carbon Fibre monocoque
Width (inc. mirrors) 1000mm (82.76in)
Weight 120 Kg
Front track 1000mm
Rear track 1000mm
Wheels Custom made 16" carbon fibre
Tyres Michelin Eco-Marathon specials
Fuel consumption 2 hours per battery set
Carbon dioxide emissions 0g/km
CONTINENTAL GT FEATURE SPECIFICATIONS
Bright chromed grille
Bentley Wheel Badge
Trimmed Steering wheel, Seat and dashboard, Touch screen driver information panel in development
Bentley Test & Development Engineering Apprentice
Greenpower Project Manager
Bentley Whole Vehicle Engineering Sponsored Degree Apprentice
Greenpower Design of steering and suspension components
Bentley Prototype Workshop and Test Facility Apprentice
Greenpower Chassis, Design & Electrical.
Bentley Apprentice Analyst Programmer
Greenpower Team Marketing, Website, data logging and telemetry.
Bentley Commercial Apprentice
Greenpower Contact for sponsors.
Bentley Electrical Engineering Apprentice
Greenpower Electrical design & Production and driver.
Bentley Body Hardware Engineering Sponsored Degree Apprentice
Greenpower Interior trim, Steering and driver.
Bentley Trim Development Apprentice
Greenpower Seat design and manufacture.
Bentley Manufacturing maintenance Apprentice
Greenpower Data logging and telemetry
*We have received much support from across the Crewe Factory