A hundred years after the Ford Model T introduced the car to the world, Ford Motor Company has released the winners of a four-month long contest that involved five universities worldwide to design an innovative and ground-breaking car concept for the second millennium.
The "ika" (Institute of Automotive Engineering Aachen) from Aachen University in Germany, the only European university to have participated in the competition, won the contest and garnered scholarship grants amounting to $25,000 (€19,362) for coming up with the most radical concept that embodied the character of the Model T and best met the standards of the competition.
The "ika" team, composed of eight engineers and students, introduced a concept which had to reach certain prerequisites set by Ford. For example, the car had to be simple, practical, lightweight and long lasting, which could provide a minimum range of 200 kilometers and be able to hold two passengers.
The most difficult challenge perhaps was the price ceiling must not go beyond $7,000 (€¨5,420). The vehicle that came out of this competition has a modular type concept, considered to be the Model T of the year 2015, with a price limit of $6,780 (€5,420). The model was based on a small-sized pick-up version of a three seater, where the passengers, including the driver, seat next to each other in a single line.
The driver's seat is located in the middle, providing no extra cost for either the right- or left-hand driver models. Making only the driver's seat adjustable, additional weight and costs were saved. The net weight of the vehicle is 800 kilograms minus occupants. This weight will increase with the introduction of an electric motor, to the standard petrol engine, transforming it into a full hybrid car, or when the vehicle converts into a battery-driven only vehicle.
The cost of the car will be affected no matter which method of propulsion is adopted. For instance, a totally electric-only system will cost twice as much compared to the standard gasoline unit. The emissions of CO2 also diverge between 54 and 100 grams per kilometer depending on the propulsion method chosen.
The simple versatility of the frame structure permits for new derivatives to be developed without expensive investments. Because of this, the concept conforms to the requirement to quickly adapt to varying market conditions and customer specifications. The car combines elements of Ford's European "kinetic design"´ form language.
The managing director of "ika", Professor Stefan Gies, commented: "We are very proud, as the only European institute, to have been able to participate in this exciting competition. Then to top it off with winning is not only very satisfying, but also confirms that German engineers and students have the capability to compete successfully on the international stage." Ford and Aachen University, with ika, have been working very closely for several decades now. Currently, they are intensively working with Ford Research Centre in Aachen, which is the only Ford research facility outside of the United States. The Managing Director of the Ford Research Centre, Charles Wu, said that, "The high quality of their concept impressed us deeply and confirms that Ford of Europe has made the right choice in cooperating with such a strong and capable academic partner." The judges for the competition named Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia as the first runner up.