Cornell Auto X Prize Team hacked a GeoMetro to become a rugged hybrid vehicle.
Electric power generation may be the most complex and innovative aspect of building a hybrid for the Automotive X Prize, but a solid foundation to support all that battery weight is just as important. As Cornell’s Popular Mechanics-sponsored AXP team integrated electrical components into its Geo Metro mule, the car’s chassis has received a complete overhaul as well.
“Before the conversion, the Metro’s total weight was about 1600 pounds,” says deputy leader Kolby Hoover, a master’s student in mechanical engineering. “The conversion adds about 770 pounds, the bulk of which is 570 pounds of batteries.” In designing its entry, Cornell’s team decided to develop an electric rear-wheel-drive system to supplement the Metro’s front-wheel drive, powered by the original combustion engine. As the transformation pressed on, the focus turned to strengthening the rear portion of the chassis and converting the car to all-wheel drive.