Bronco Racing speeds into the future with their first EV

Contact: Elizabeth VandenHeede

Formula team members had the opportunity to visit Tesla in California, where they met up with fellow Broncos. Shown flashing the W are Soham Gargate, M.S.E.’20, general assembly equipment engineer at Tesla (second from right) with current students (from left) Noah Gould, Jack LeFevre and Aidan Fayhee.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's Formula SAE student organization is building its first electric vehicle (EV), hoping to meet the stringent technical requirements for competition. In 2013, FSAE had just five electric vehicles competing. Today, with the automotive industry focused more and more on electrification of vehicles, there are 75 teams competing and hundreds of teams worldwide—and the WMU group is working hard to join them.

“As a race team, our goal is to build a car that can compete on the highest level and show off what we can do,” says Noah Gould, a manufacturing engineering technology student and vice president for EV development on the student team. “Many teams are beginning to transfer over to EV, and we want to stay competitive so that our team learns the most relevant skills for industry as well as making a name for ourselves, the school and the alumni before us.”

The project is still in its early stages. The team began designing in the 2022-23 season. The main components have been purchased for the EV powertrain, but there are still many aspects of the car to design and select. For example, the team is designing a new chassis for the vehicle rather than optimizing an old design and the EV competition has new rules and restrictions the students must consider in their design.

“We want to win!” says Gould. “For a first-year team that bar might be set a bit high, but realistically we plan to build WMU’s first EV Formula Car and make it to our competitions with a legal and competitive car. For most first-year teams, getting the car through the tech process is the hardest part of the competition and that is exactly what we are shooting for.”

The project is receiving industry support from companies the team met at the North American Battery Expo and Tesla x SAE EV workshop as well as existing partners.

“Our partners are helping in any way they can through sponsor visits, workshops, fabrication, donations or even just believing in us,” says Gould. “Building our first EV car is no small feat and we appreciate all of the support we can get. We are also fortunate that the college is supporting the project. The resources we have been exposed to are showing how important the next generation of automotive development is to Western.”

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