Electric go-kart club, EV Kartz, created at Kettering University to bring more experience with electric powertrains

Kettering University students who want hands-on experience with electric powertrains and have a need for speed now have a new student club to join.

The EV Kartz Club was started by Jamie Everhart ‘19 and Alex Calderon ‘19 in 2018 to give students access to electric high speed vehicles in the form of go-karts. The club will design, build, and race the electric go-karts in an annual competition. EV Kartz team members show off the electric go-kart

“We purchased a go-kart chassis kit and will be building the powertrain. We wanted to build out the electric motorsports platform at Kettering and wanted to add extra options for students who want to work with electric motorsports,” said Everhart, an Electrical Engineering major at Kettering. “If students are interested in building, this club is for them. This is the only thing they can drive that is an electric high-speed vehicle.”

The team’s first competition is the EV Grand Prix in May at the Indianapolis Speedway. The main objective of the collegiate competition is to the win the race. There is also a design award for innovation and an efficiency award for the team that finishes the race using the least amount of energy.

What will really set Kettering’s team apart, Everhart said, is the uniqueness of the go-kart.

“We are in the process of designing a custom motor. Everything on the powertrain side will be built by students. We will be the only team coming to this competition with a student-built inverter, motor, battery management system, and battery pack. All the electronics on it are done in house,” Everhart said. “We will go to competition with a complete Kettering powertrain. That will be pretty cool.”

The idea for EV Kartz started when Everhart and Calderon were starting to work on their Electrical Engineering capstone project. For the capstone project they decided to design a torque vector control system for a dual-motor go-kart in which a supervisor controller receives inputs from the driver and vehicle motion sensors and outputs torque requests to each inverter/motor with the aim of increasing the performance of the vehicle while cornering.  

The club originated from this project, but Everhart and Calderon expanded the scope of the club to include a traditional single motor go-kart, as well.  

“In the way the automotive industry is moving to put electric motors in car to improve the efficiency, the club gives a better understanding and hands-on skills they maybe wouldn’t get outside of school. Students would get a good basis to carry on that work in their co-op. It’s a great learning opportunity,” Calderon said. “We want to offer more electric motor opportunities. Plus the go-karts are fast. That’s pretty great.”

The club is active for A and B sections. All majors are invited to join. Students interested in joining can contact Everhart at ever7299@kettering.edu.

“For students who are interested in vehicle control systems and racing, we will provide the first options for this. Anyone who takes this club forward will have a basic model with a pretty cool control system in place for this. They can tune it to be better,” Everhart said. “Anyone who wants to learn about electric powertrains or controllers is welcome to join. And obviously go-karts are fun. That’s a bonus.”