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Lightweight, energy efficient and roadworthy

For the first time the student team "Fortis Saxonia" of TU Chemnitz presents a roadworthy eco-car from 14th till 18th May 2014 at Shell Eco-marathon in Rotterdam

  • For the first time the team "Fortis Saxonia" presents a vehicle for the Urban Concept category at the Shell Eco-marathon. The design was inspired by nature, particularly by the honey bee. From this idea arose the name of the eco-car: Umicore EcoBee. Photo: Steve Conrad
  • After months of development and assembly work, Umicore EcoBee was solemnly presented on May 7th, 2014 - one week before the start of the Shell Eco-marathon. Linda Blumkowski (on the right), the head of PR-Team "Fortis Saxonia" uncovers the vehicle with Katharina Brodt who represented Umicore as main sponsor. Photo: Steve Conrad
  • This Ökomobil weighs around 200 kilograms and is steered by a driver sitting upright. Photo: Steve Conrad

5,113 hours of planning and 3,652 hours of construction were poured into the "Umicore EcoBee" - the current vehicle of student team "Fortis Saxonia" of Technische Universität Chemnitz. 25 students and graduates from different courses of studies work in an interdisciplinary manner at "Fortis Saxonia" on the development of lightweight, more energy efficient vehicles. Its drive mechanism consists of a hydrogen fuel cell producing electricity for an electric motor. Since 2005 "Fortis Saxonia" takes part in the annual Shell Eco-marathon. The participants of the competition are given the task to design a vehicle that consumes as little fuel as possible. The winner is the team that travels with one liter fuel the most mileage. The best result of a prototype vehicle of "Fortis Saxonia" was a covered distance of 2,552 kilometers in 2007 that put the team in an impressive fifth place overall. So far the team has launched only "cigar-shaped" vehicles. For the first time in 2014 the everyday use modular vehicle "Umicore EcoBee" will take part in the Urban Concept Category in the race in the Netherlands. This class of vehicle is a small city car, which has to have an upright seat, a light system, windscreen wipers, four wheels, some storage space and other details.

The Shell Eco-marathon will take place from 14th till 18th May 2014 in Rotterdam. More than 200 teams compete at Europe`s largest energy efficiency competition under realistic conditions of a downtown area. A total of 3,000 pupils and students from Europe and Africa are expected in the Ahoy Arena in Rotterdam. "Fortis Saxonia" not only wants to achieve a good ranking in the category energy efficiency, but also hopes to receive a prize for the best technical innovation and design. This year`s main sponsor is Umicore, a material technology group from Belgium that operates worldwide, and other sponsors such as Continental and Thyssen Krupp Presta. The Chair of Advanced Powertrains of TU Chemnitz, the Federal Cluster of Excellence "Technology fusion for multi-functional lightweight structures" as well as Faculty of Natural Sciences work together with "Fortis Saxonia". Among other external partners are ICM - Institute of Mechanical and Plant Engineering Chemnitz, and FORM & DRANG, a firm from Leipzig that gives support in design.

On May 7th, 2014 the team presented their new vehicle with a "roll-out" at "Altes Heizhaus" of TU Chemnitz. Among the guests were also representatives of the sponsors. In 2013 Umicore has launched the initiative "Powered by Umicore" to support students who focus on the subject of clean mobility. "Fortis Saxonia" asserted themselves through a multilevel selection - the students impressed with know-how, enthusiasm and commitment, said Katharina Brodt, head of Public Relations at Umicore Hanau. Similar praise was conveyed by Prof. Dr. Andreas Schubert, Vice-Rector for Knowledge and Technology Transfer and representative of the University Management at TU Chemnitz: "The Automobile State of Saxony - and especially Chemnitz as a science region - have always played an important role in the automotive industry. In order to maintain this position and continue expanding, it is of a great importance to extend research and development in this segment. The student research project ”Fortis Saxonia” is exemplary for the entire sector." The Vice-Rector thanked students for their commitment and ambition in this project, "that stands by our university and our region as a prime example of a living knowledge and technology transfer."

Students reported in word and vision about the development and assembly work which carries on until the start in Rotterdam. Nico Keller has managed the Chassis team of "Fortis Saxonia", which plays a central role in planning and construction of the vehicle suitable for everyday use. The objectives of the work of his team were a basic framework on the basis of CFK tubular profiles, a modular vehicle concept and a unique design. To implement the latter one, students of TU Chemnitz asked for support from ICM - Institute of Mechanical and Plant Engineering Chemnitz, as well as two students from Hochschule Zwickau. The result is a vehicle consisting of 20 parts, made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and reinforced with aramid. The regulations of the Shell Eco-marathon determine the vehicle to weigh less than 205 kilograms.

Martin Rößler, head of the Powertrain team, declared that the new vehicle follows the "good Fortis Saxonia tradition" and is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. For various applications, for example appearances at trade shows, the battery usage is also possible. The Continental AG, that has been supporting the project since 2012, presented the students of the project with a 48-volt lithium-ion battery and best wishes and good luck for the Shell Eco-marathon.

Shell Eco-Marathon on the Internet:

"Fortis Saxonia" on the Internet:

For more information contact Linda Blumkowski, Phone: 0176 93179594, Email:

(Author: Katharina Thehos, Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Katharina Thehos

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