First Croatian Electric Race Car Reaches 100 km/h in Three Seconds

Lauren Simmonds

As Novac/Lea Balenovic writes on the 12th of August, 2019, after two years of hard work, sleepless nights, laboratory tests, assurances from professors that the project is feasible, then rolled up sleeves and “physicals”, students of the Zagreb Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (FSB) created their first electric car, which is also the first Croatian electric race car, and they have already tested it.

The FSB Racing Team has actually been in existence for fifteen years already, and their story began as far back as in 2004, when one of the FSB students and Formula One enthusiasts were surfing online and stumbled across the Formula Student International (FS) competition. They obtained permission to participate after painstakingly persuading professors from the faculty and the Student Association and then recruited other enthusiasts from the faculty.

Today, however, the team is no longer made up of just students of Zagreb’s FSB, but also those from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER), the Faculty of Science (PMF) and more, and in total there are, says Mark Marasović, the head of marketing for that student team, about fifty of them.

”With each project comes a shift of generations. After the project is over, most students graduate and leave the team, and then mostly new, ”fresh” people come and start working on new projects. We always try to transfer the knowledge and technical solutions from the previous cars to the next generation of students, but sometimes it’s difficult to do that because with the passing of generations, parts of the knowledge is lost and students have to do a good deal of work and research to find out why something is done this way and how,” Marasović explained, adding that the team functions like a real company that has its own hierarchy and weekly meetings.

The FSB Racing Team has seven cars behind it. More specifically, they have made five race cars, all powered by petrol engines, and for the last two, the Arctos and Strix, they also made upgraded “R” versions. In fact, every new FSB Racing Team car brings a number of improvements in comparison to the previous ones, making their vehicles lighter, made from better materials, and equipped with better driving characteristics.

But the last car that has been made by them stands out the most. The idea of ​​developing an electric race car came from three students who also worked on the last FSB Racing Team vehicle. Although some professors were very skeptical about the possibility of developing such an ambitious project, the mere presentation of the detailed concept totally knocked them off their feet. This is a model called FSB RT06E Vulpes, which is, as the head of marketing in the team explained, the first 100 percent electric car, and they’re already working on preparing a brand new one.

”In parallel with the production of Vulpes, we’re working on the construction of a new car that will be compete next year and, of course, will be electric again. We plan to reduce the weight, improve some structural solutions and start developing new components that we’ve purchased so far,” Marasović noted.

”All of the electronics, from the battery management system (BMS), the vehicle control units (VCUs) to the safety assemblies and steering wheel electronics, have been designed and constructed by us, and that applies to most of the mechanical parts. The parts we purchased are just the screws, nuts, tires and the like,” stated this talented group of Croatian students whose latest car reaches a truly impressive top speed of 110 km/h, and accelerates to 100 km/h in a mere three seconds.

They have already participated with this car at FS in Austria, where they are ranked among the top ten in two categories, cost and business plan, and they’re now preparing for Hungary and for the unofficial competition of teams from the region, FS Alpe Adria.

To clarify, this is a European competition that places a focus on engineering skills rather than driving skills when evaluating student cars, which is not surprising since teams come from colleges that are ”creating” future engineers. The points to be scored are firstly in regard to the static part, such as the design report, the bill of costs, the business plan and the technical inspection, and the dynamic part.

In total, they have competed in ten competitions across the European continent, and they’re particularly proud of the Silverstone competition in England which was held five years ago, when the team finished 10th in the competition with as many as 97 student teams on the course. In addition to England, they also competed in Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

All of their cars, as Marasović stated, must pass a technical check to ensure safety on dynamic tests, and this is judged by judges from the likes of Formula One, among others. A key part of the project, according to the FSB Racing Team, is funding, since the entire project is funded by sponsors and donors.

Joško Rogulj, Program Director at GlobalLogic, one of the partner companies, points out that the company is open to recruiting students with whom it has collaborated, as “with this project they have also gained the experience and knowledge necessary for a real business environment.”

In addition to GlobalLogic, the team was also assisted by Bosch, Auto Zubak and many others, including the world-renowned Rimac Automobili, where many members go to practice and some even get jobs there after completing their further education. Matko Skutari, a team leader who came up with the idea of ​​making an electric car, is currently working as an intern at Rimac Automobili.

”Our members are often employed in auto industry companies, and many of them are now in leadership positionsm” said Mark Marasović proudly.

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