Alfred State Automotive Students Prepare to Race Hybrid Vehicles February 2012

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012 Members Spotlight
Alfred State Automotive Students Prepare to Race Hybrid Vehicles February 2012

Alfred State Automotive Students Prepare to Race Hybrid Vehicles February 2012

  Senior students enrolled in Alfred State College’s Automotive Trades: Automotive Service Technician curriculum are busy preparing for two upcoming competitions that involve alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles.   The students will race at the 2012 Green Grand Prix, slated for April 20-21 in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and during Speed Week beginning Aug. 11 at the Bonneville, Utah, Salt Flats.   Alfred State Automotive Trades Associate Professor and Chair Kent Johnson noted last year’s seniors, with their modified 2003 Honda Insight, won a fuel economy challenge in their class during the 2011 Green Grand Prix, an annual contest that promotes awareness of environmentally friendly vehicles and fuels.   Alfred State’s vehicle, driven by Johnson, competed at the 2011 event in the “automotive manufacturer discontinued vehicle” class, which included vehicles that are now out of production such as the Geo Metro and ASC’s Honda Insight.   “The students’ goal was to create a car that could attain a 100-mile-per-gallon ride,” Johnson explained. “The students modified the car, donated by alumnus Mark Crounse, automotive service class of 1975, improving its aerodynamics by lowering the vehicle six inches in the rear and four inches in the front and optimizing all of the vehicle suspension angles. All unnecessary components such as seats, except for the driver’s, and carpet were removed to reduce as much weight as possible.”   This year, Johnson said his students are making more modifications to the Insight to increase its efficiency during the race. The ASC team also is racing with three other vehicles – a Toyota Prius that has been converted to a plug-in hybrid, a Chevy Malibu Hybrid that has been converted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and a Chevy Volt.   The Categories of Competition (based on EPA combined highway/city ratings) include:  
  • Vehicles rated at 26 mpg and under
  • Vehicles rated at 27-32 mpg
  • Vehicles rated at 33- 38 mpg
  • Vehicles rated at 39-44 mpg
  • Vehicles rated at 45-50 mpg
  • Two-wheeled vehicles
  • Three-wheeled vehicles
  • Trucks
  • Vans
  • Diesel (four-wheeled)
  • Automotive manufacturer discontinued vehicle (“Other”)
  • Biodiesel
  • EV (electric vehicle)
  • LP (liquid propane)
  • CNG
  Eligible vehicles include all hybrid models, plug-in hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell cars and vehicles running on biodiesel, diesel and flexible fuel, as well as other alternative fuel vehicles such as those powered by vegetable oil, propane and CNG.  

Alfred State College Automotive Trades senior students, from left, Ryan MacIntyre, Khobir Udden and Cody Dolley display the school’s Honda Insight, which will race at the 2012 Green Grand Prix in April. Credit: Alfred State College

  When Johnson and his students attend Speed Week activities in August, they will race a 2000 Honda Insight to compete for a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.   “The purpose of the project is to demonstrate the ability to modify ‘green technology’ vehicles,” he added, noting that Utah’s Salt Flats hosts this annual, historical event, which began in 1949 and has been held every year since then.    The Flats are a 30,000-acre expanse of hard, white salt crust on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake basin in Utah. They were formed when the waters of ancient Lake Bonneville began to recede. At that time, Lake Bonneville covered two-thirds of Utah and was almost 1,000 feet deep in the area of the Flats.   “The automotive department students and instructors are busy preparing a hybrid vehicle, donated by alumnus Robert Couse, that will compete for a land speed record,” Johnson noted. “This project will demonstrate that the college’s ‘Going Green’ initiatives can be educational and fun for any enthusiast. The Bonneville effort is designed to showcase the Alfred State focus on project-based education.”  

The Alfred State College Automotive Trades students are modifying this 2000 Honda Insight in preparation for Speed Week when they will attempt to set a land speed record in August. Credit: Alfred State College

  Anyone interested in donating funds or resources to Alfred State’s racing projects can contact Johnson at or 607-587-3118.