A century after the Model T put the world on wheels, Ford Motor Company announced the winners of a global competition that challenged five universities to create a similarly revolutionary vehicle concept.
The only European university to take part - Aachen University's Institute of Automotive Engineering (ika) in Germany - has won the challenge and $25,000 in scholarship funds for delivering an innovative concept that embodied the spirit of the Model T and best met the criteria of the challenge.
The Aachen University team, consisting of eight students and engineers, developed a concept set by Ford: the vehicle had to be simple, lightweight, practical and durable, offer a range of at least 125 miles, accommodate at least two passengers and be priced no more than $7,000.
The result is a modular vehicle concept - the Model T for the year 2015 - with an estimated price of $6,780.
The base model is a mini three-seat pick-up, with passengers accommodated next to each other. With the driver's seat centrally located, there are no extra costs for right- or left-hand-drive versions. Additional weight and costs are saved by making only the driver's seat adjustable.
The vehicle weighs 800kg, although this would increase if its gasoline engine were combined with an electric motor to become a hybrid, or if converted into a battery-powered car. An electric-only system would cost double that of the standard gasoline unit, the Aachen team said.
CO2 emissions would vary between 54 and 100g/km, depending on the chosen propulsion system.
"As the only European institute, we are very proud to have participated in this exciting competition. And to top it off by winning was not only satisfying, but also confirmed that German engineers and students have the ability to compete on the international stage," said Professor Stefan Gies, managing director of ika.
Aachen University has worked in close co-operation with Ford of Europe for many decades. In particular, they are working with the Ford Research Centre in Aachen, which is the only Ford research facility of its type outside the US.
The Ford jury also named the Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, as second winner.