• Kyodo

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A car with a battery-powered engine crafted by students at a high school in Noshiro, Akita Prefecture, recently passed a safety inspection — an unprecedented scenario under the tight regulations governing automobile specifications in Japan.

Noshiro Kogyo High School, which trains prospective engineers, now plans to use the electric automobile as its official vehicle, school officials said.

“I have never heard of a case like this, in which high school students built a battery-powered automobile that can pass our safety checks,” said an official at the prefecture’s automobile inspection division.

Five students built the vehicle to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the school’s founding.

According to teacher Masaomi Kudo, who supervised the project, the five began work in August. They devoted a lot of time and effort, including work during after-school hours.

They used the body of a Nissan March, Kudo said, adding that the students used most of the other parts as well — except for the engine.

The car’s battery generates 16.3 kilowatts, which is enough for the vehicle to run at a speed of 80 kph, Kudo said. The vehicle can travel a distance of 50 km on a single charge, after which a 10-hour recharge is required.

Kudo said that the project, which cost 2.3 million yen, had its share of problems, nevertheless.

The team failed the first safety inspection due to a need for more insulation against short circuits, Kudo said, noting that its second attempt was a success.

“Work was very hard because we don’t have a factory,” said Yu Oba, one of the five students. “But the trouble disappeared when we finally got the engine started.”

Kudo is also pleased with their achievement. “I am confident the students learned the importance of engineering through this project.”

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