At-Risk Teens Build Amazing Electric Cars In Kansas City

MindDrive is an organization out of Missouri which offers a hands-on, experiential learning program geared towards teaching STEM principles of math, science and technology to students who are struggling in the traditional school system. One of their ways of doing this is through having these students build electric cars, such as we first saw back in 2011. Now MindDrive is back, debuting at the Kansas City auto show a fully electric Karmann Ghia and two other vehicles.

The fully converted Karmann Ghia, according to MindDrive, “was designed, in concept, to be a neighborhood or village car with a top speed of 45 miles per hour and a short range of approximately 30 miles on a charge.” Those that built it were all at-risk teens hailing from five different schools from the urban core of Kansas City.

MiniDrive electric Karmann Ghia (image via MiniDrive)

MindDrive electric Karmann Ghia (image via MindDrive)

The students are said to first have taken the car completely apart to assess what could be salvaged and what needed to be replaced. Repairing, sanding, priming and then applying “a beautiful new coat of paint meticulously reconditioned the body. The students and their mentors have replaced all of the critical components of the car, including the steering, suspension, and brakes.”

Joining the Ghia was a fully converted electric Lotus, which the students and mentors took on a coast-to-coast journey from San Diego, CA to Jacksonville, FL last June, and a proto-type car they named “Lola”, which is built using an Indy Champ car chassis. Lola is an ultra-lightweight, efficient concept car that achieved over 300 miles per gallon equivalent during testing, according to MindDrive.

The organization is hoping its experiences in building electric cars will lead it to a goal of creating a “lightweight proto-type with a fiberglass body and plywood monocoque structure that will allow the vehicle to be built simply and efficiently.” They plan to produce one car a month as a low-production kit car for sale to the public. The car will operate on six 12-volt batteries producing 72 volts.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


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