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St. Albert students build electric race car at U of A

UA-24 electric car built at the University of Alberta should do 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds
ZOOM ZOOM — St. Albert resident and U of A engineering student Emanuel Kwaw, shown here, was one of the roughly 150 people at the Porsche Centre Edmonton for the unveiling of the U of A Formula Racing team’s new electric race car (which is next to him) on April 6, 2024. Kwaw helped build the car. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

St. Albert students have helped the University of Alberta build an electric race car that should go from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in about four seconds.

About 150 people were at the Porsche Centre Edmonton outlet on Stony Plain Rd. April 6 to witness the U of A’s Formula Racing team unveil its new electric race car.

Formula SAE is an international competition where university teams have to design, build, and race a Formula-style race car in one year, said U of A Formula Racing team project manager Daniel Keys. (Formula racing cars are known for their large front and rear wings.) Unlike the U of A’s EcoCar, which emphasizes fuel efficiency, this car is all about speed.

The new car, dubbed the UA-24, is the first all-electric model built by the club since it was founded in 1998, Keys said. The club switched to electric from gas-powered in part because Formula SAE is moving to electric vehicles.

“Switching to EVs is also a very exciting challenge in terms of engineering design,” Keys said, as the motors, power packs, and control systems are all much different from gas-powered cars.

EVs also have much narrower temperature tolerances than gas-powered cars, and heavier weights, Key said. This year’s car is about 23 kilograms (50 pounds) heavier than its predecessors, and needed a whole new design and cooling system.

Keys said the car is designed to have 107 horsepower and a top speed of 120 km/h, both of which should be competitive rates at this year’s event. The car includes custom-made circuit boards, cooling systems, and an aerodynamic under-tray to boost traction.

“Probably the biggest advantage from switching from internal combustion to an EV car is you have instant torque,” Keys said, which means massive acceleration. The team estimates that the car should go from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, which is much faster than the team’s old gas-powered cars.

“Our car actually has a very similar power-to-weight ratio to the Porsche 911 GT2RS,” he noted, which does 0-100 in about 2.7 seconds.

Team effort

St. Albert resident and first-year U of A engineering student Emanuel Kwaw was one of the roughly 40 students who helped build the car.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always liked speed,” he said, adding he plans to get a job in the car industry once he graduates.

Former St. Albert resident and first-year U of A business student Michael Buchel was in charge of organizing Saturday’s unveiling and finding over 60 sponsors for the team, including St. Albert’s Anderson Anodizing. He said the team plans to start test drives of the car in May prior to competing in Michigan this June.

Keys and Buchel said this June’s competition will see the team compete based on (among other factors) design, budget, acceleration, cornering, and endurance. The team hopes to finish in the Top 10, and usually makes the Top 40.

Kwaw said working on this race car taught him a lot about organization, teamwork, and planning, and gave him a chance to build contacts in the automotive industry. Keys said his work on the car landed him an internship with Tesla Motors.

The Formula SAE Electric competition is scheduled to run from June 12-15 at the Michigan International Speedway. Visit for details on the U of A’s Formula Racing team.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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