Feb 192011
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid photographed in Colu...

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A team of six undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has converted a 2010 Mercury Milan hybrid into a pure battery electric car.

It’s part of a larger program with the goal of building an electric car that can travel 200 miles between charges and have a charging time of 10 minutes. By comparison, Tesla Motors says that its $3,000 Home Connector unit can fully charge its Roadster in less than four hours.

The team plans to unveil its electric Milan — a former test mule with 8,000 miles on the clock, donated by Ford — at a press briefing on Friday. After picking up the car in Dearborn, Mich., earlier this summer, the students (at least some of whom were working on $4,500 M.I.T. summer grants) put in 100-hour weeks, first to strip out the drivetrain, hybrid system, transmission and fuel lines, and then to install an A123 battery pack and a 187-kilowatt, 250-horsepower Satcon Technology electric motor designed to power a bus.

“It’s got way too much power,” said Radu Gogoana, a team member and mechanical engineering student who hopes eventually to build electric cars professionally. Mr. Gogoana estimated that the first iteration of the electric Milan, with a 65-mile range battery pack, could accelerate from zero to 60 miles an hour in six to seven seconds. The 200-mile range version will weigh more and have a zero to 60 time in the eight second range.

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