~ While I was in Bellingham on business today I had the pleasure of meeting Director Eric Leonhardt and getting a tour of Western Washington University's Vehicle Research Institute.
|The cars that nearly won the 100 MPGe X-Prize Competition|
Automobile magazine has written of VRI that it is "very possibly the best school in the country for total car design." They are certaibly among a very select group in creating designs for high-efficiency cars of the future using lightweight materials, elctricity, hybridization, biofuels, solar power and other techniques.
|The Viking-1, their first car.|
Note the spare-tire-as-front-bumper and in-place turning radius
The shop has an impressive array of milling, machining, and measuring equipment, and there were literally dozens of students, faculty, cars and projects in various stages inside and outside the warren of shops and offices on the main campus of WWU.
|In the boneyard, some of the many street-legal models|
There are many older models and designs, some still working, some cannibalized for parts, others with cracked and flattened tires.
|The Viking-21 with solar panels on thehood and roof.|
The sign on the post reads: "Don't write stuff in the dust on the cars.
Violators will be immediately shot." At least one cat has ignored this warning.
|One of 10 identical units built on prototype production line.|
|Under the car cover: a rare surviving EV-1|
Thanks to Eric, Steve, Mark and Diane for the opportunity to see their impressive body of work.