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West Philly High School Hybrid X Team

The K-1 Attack is not your father's hybrid car. Burning fuel made from soybeans, boasting gas mileage to die for (55 miles per gallon), and displaying a sporty carbon-fiber body, this vehicle has taken top honors two years in a row in the student division at the Tour de Sol, a competition for environmentally sound cars.

The contest is packed with well-funded university teams that produce ultramodified versions of Honda Insights or Toyota Priuses, but the Attack came from an unlikely source: A team of underfunded students (and their teacher) from an urban high school crafted the car from the ground up.

The award-winning electric-vehicle team from West Philadelphia High School is part of the school's Academy of Applied Automotive and Mechanical Science and is one of the Philadelphia Academies, a nonprofit network of career academies operating within the public school system. Schools within schools, the academies focus on partnerships with the business community and the school district, pairing course content with real-world applications. By the beginning of eighth grade, students in the system may apply for a place at any of the twenty-four academies, which focus on career options ranging from environmental technology to communications to hospitality.

Students at the automotive academy spend a year trying to build a running car, but they also work on public relations, creating displays and practicing presentations of their work. A small group also travels to the automotive extravaganza, where they regularly make a big impression. In addition to learning skills, the urban teenagers expand their view of the future, discovering, often for the first time, how exciting their job options may be.


West Philadelphia High School Wins “Honda: Power of Dreams Award”

PHILADELPHIA, PA- Well, they’ve done it again. The West Philadelphia High School Electric Vehicle Team is once again paving the technological highway in this years NESEA 2002 Tour de Sol, the country’s largest electric vehicle race. Last year, the West Philly High team “Brought soul to the Tour de Sol”, this year they’re bringing it back, multiplied by two! After technical problems forced the team to compete without their electric Saturn, the students were not dismayed and successfully completed the six day road rally with their 1995 hybrid-electric Jeep Wrangler. Much to their surprise Honda presented the team with the coveted “Honda: Power of Dreams Award” presented in recognition of the teams outstanding technical work, engineering pursuits and determination. In light of all that was accomplished during the 2001 Tour de Sol we can safely assume that once again the team from West Philly High will leave their mark on this years race and possibly everyone in their dust.

Nicknamed “Deuce”, Soljourner I, a 1993 electric Saturn is definitely no second place vehicle. Weighing in at 3500 pounds Deuce is powered by a 336 volt lead acid battery pack, which places the electric Saturn in a class of it’s own. The team continues to us a 36 horsepower Brushless DC Motor donated by MTS which is the backbone of their entire operation.

Weighing in at almost 4000 pounds, the team’s diesel-electric Jeep Wrangler, Soljourner II has undergone yet another make over, this time, it’s convertible. Powered by a student built generator using a 20 horsepower Yanmar diesel engine and a 36 horsepower MTS DC Brushless Motor combined with a 408 volt lead acid battery pack, the team now has a winning combination. For this years race, West Philly High students also designed and built a honeycomb composite shell to replace the former 4x4’s heavy, squared body.  
The 2002 Tour de Sol kicks off this Sunday, May 12th in Baltimore, MD and ends Saturday the 18th of May in New York City with a stop in Philadelphia on Thursday May 16th at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. With just a few short days until the race commences, student Sergio Diggs remarks, “We’re determined to succeed and we know how to get the job done, with that in mind success is a given.” It’s easy to see that these students have what it takes now all that’s left is first place.

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