Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Lifestyles

April 14, 2008

Electric powered

MATTOON — Anyone who drives knows gas prices are on the rise with no peak in sight. While the effects on the wallet cause a financial burden, environmental and oil sustainability loom as future problems.

Lake Land College faculty and students are working on a project that may be a fossil fuel-free light at the end of the tunnel. That light is actually coming from the headlights of a completely electric 1972 Volkswagen Super Beetle or bug. The bug sits proudly at the Lake Land VoTec building on the Mattoon campus.

While everyone has different interests in what they want out of a vehicle, the idea for this electrically run vehicle, which will be recharged by a Lake Land wind turbine, has almost become a reality.

The beginning of this story began when Mid America Motor Works in Effingham donated a rusted out, barely drivable 1972 VW Super Beetle. The Lake Land team, however, didn’t see a junk vehicle; instead, it saw a future dream car and set about making that occur. In the last year, the student/faculty team removed and restored the chassis by replacing rusted out parts.

After the rear mounted motor was filled with batteries and the front “trunk” of the car received the same, along with disc brakes on the front wheels to accommodate the extra weight, this stick shift beauty purrs without making noise.

With the work accomplished by everyone from Lake Land President Scott Lensnik to faculty members to automotive students, the car drives like a top.

“This project is an awareness thing,” said Tim VanDyke, technology director at Lake Land. “When my teenage son comes up to me and asks what is going on with gas prices, it must be an issue when teenagers care about it.”

The car’s switchover from gas power to electric, led by automotive instructors Kevin Miller and Brian Madlem, has been a work in progress.

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