Knockout Stage Lessons Learned – Carl Guichard

This is certainly not the last blog entry from Global-E, but it is a great time for me to personally and publicly thank all of the supporting members of our race team for their valiant effort competing in the international Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize competition. Not only were they able to refine two of the company’s three vehicles into viable race vehicles; they simultaneously proved the concepts in real world testing.

During G1’s City, Urban and Highway testing phases the onboard data system logged 116 MPG for the city phase, 92 for the urban phase and 74 for the highway phase. This is remarkable result when you consider that the company contended in this race series with the heaviest car (3,400 lbs) in the competition fleet. The weights of both G1 and Pulse reflect true production ready vehicles with required everyday performance stats and occupant amenities. G1 has air-conditioning, heating, power steering, antilock brakes, cruise control (deactivated for the competition), airbags (deactivated), a sunroof, safety glass; many features that would be required to wage a successful homologation bid at complying with the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. In addition, G1 has a marketable/appealing style. There was just one thing that she lacked and that caused us to fall out of the race series:  She needed to be supported by a well-seasoned race team of technicians/mechanics.

We had a loose 90-degree AN fitting on the fuel return flex hose between the quick disconnect and the tank. We had just completed removing the tanks steel cover by request and this then led to the tank sitting loosely in its cradle. The new engineer reinstalling the tank didn’t object to the tank being loose in the cradle and completed the installation giving a thumbs-up. A quality check of the quick disconnects confirmed they were sealed but the fit of the tank was not inspected since it was assumed to be as it was during base-line and pre-race inspection, that is, immobile. During the two day race series with the tank vibrating (1/2” amplitude perturbations) the 90deg fitting on the top of the tank loosened and therefore allowed fuel to spray/leak during the few times the engine was running in the highway phase.

You can certainly take a well seasoned company of designers, engineers and business men and women – all who have extensive knowledge with building prototype components, aircraft, cars or boats-  and get them to build a great development vehicle. Putting this vehicle in a race scenario, however, presents a whole different set of variables. The reality is that for a vehicle competing in xprize, we were lacking the race team mindset. Perhaps the case is that for  a vehicle that will go into production, you need the men and women who have both skill sets: the racing mindsets AND the standards of the trade that help push the production vehicles out the factory door with 100% quality in every vehicle, every time.

With the racing skillset, we would have noticed the lack of safety wire on those fittings and more than likely would have noted the tank loosely moving around and adjusted accordingly. This gives rise to the adage that once you find one process escape there is surely another one along for the ride.

So, although it may be tiring to add a lessons learned item, it is never tiring to extend a compliment, a congratulations and a heart felt thanks to the race team for a job well done. They fought the good fight. We are proud of what they accomplished and for the feedback on the vehicle designs. All of this will make the company move faster and further down the road of environmentally conscious and highly efficient production vehicles for a world that is desperately in need of them.

Sincerely,

Carl Guichard, Founder

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