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Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences’ electric car, Electric RaceAbout, or ERA, did extremely well in the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE vehicle design competition in the United States.
Project Leader and Chief Engineer Sami Ruotsalainen accepted the prize for second place in a high-profile award ceremony in Washington D.C. on Thursday, 16 September. Speakers at the ceremony included Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
“Electric RaceAbout is an excellent piece of work. Basically everything in the car was developed by these university students. It’s a really high-performance electric sports car and probably the most impressive-looking of all the entrants. One of its specialties is that each wheel has its own motor. ERA was a clear favourite from the beginning because it was so well executed," says Bob Larsen, Senior Advisor, Technical Operations for the Prize.
According to Sami Ruotsalainen, who is an automotive engineering lecturer at Metropolia, the students were part of the team right from the beginning to build the world’s best electric car, and did just that.
“We have shown that Finland should continue to develop electric vehicles and that it’s worth it,” Mr Ruotsalainen continues.
With a single charge, ERA will take you at an average speed of 110 km/h from Helsinki to Tampere – that’s some 170 kilometres – consuming an amount of energy that is equivalent to 1.6 litres of petrol per 100 kilometres.
“Electric cars are undeniably one of the key answers to current energy consumption and environmental problems,” concludes Mr Ruotsalainen.
Tuomo Kinnunen, who will graduate from Metropolia in September as Automotive Engineer, was ERA’s driver in the competition and part of the project from the start.
“We came up against some pretty tough opposition, including major car manufacturers. Although we were a bunch of students, our car was streets ahead of the others in many respects, and many people couldn't believe we were still students. It was a great feeling to be able show what we were made of,” says Mr Kinnunen.
“I was privileged to be included in this project, because it's just the kind of thing that is needed in the labour market, and this gives me an advantage over many of my peers. Sure it has taken a lot of time – but it has also given a lot,” he says.
Most of the more than 60 partners in this three-year project by Metropolia are Finnish companies and research institutions. The car was designed by Metropolia’s Automotive Engineering department and Lahti University of Applied Sciences’ Institute of Design, while Lappeenranta University of Technology designed the electric motors optimised for vehicle use.
The X PRIZE Foundation’s mission is to promote vehicle product development towards energy-efficient and environmentally sound alternatives and to help them being mass-produced for the benefit of consumers. With almost one hundred teams having entered the race, Electric RaceAbout came second in the alternative side–by-side-seater category.
The competition has three categories, and the prize money totals USD 10 million.
Project Manager Sami Ruotsalainen,
tel. +358 (0)50 5288 648,
Electric RaceAbout and partners (bottom of page)