RMIT Electric Racing began in 2008. Built on the success of over a decade of RMIT Racing, a small team of interested students and staff at RMIT set out to prove that they could produce a simple, completely electric counterpart for the combustion vehicle.
With the shift in the focus of new vehicles towards sustainable technologies, the team set out to show that electric vehicles are the sustainable future. The project was undertaken to show that the Formula SAE competition has scope to be expanded and that exciting, sustainable fully electric vehicles can be built for under $20,000.
The initial project was themed green in more ways than just the colour scheme. Reusing an old chassis from RMIT Racing, recycled components and completely renewable energy from the RMIT Renewable Energy Farm the project was focused on sustainability. Undertaken by students from both Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, and with funding through Automotive research (AutoCRC), this project was launched under the supervision of Professor Simon Watkins.
The initial steps in the development of the first electric vehicle where the dismantle of the RMIT Racing 2004 Racer. Removing all the undesired components, primarily in drivetrain of the vehicle, the R04 was dismantled to prepare for redesign. A single electric motor was selected, as well as the batteries to power the vehicle. The car was then redesigned around these components with alterations and new electric drivetrain components installed.
The first car was demonstrated at the 2008 Australasian Formula-SAE event and received much publicity for being the first ever, electric Formula SAE car. Furthermore, despite not officially competing in the competition, the car could lap at times comparable to the competing field of petrol cars.
In collaboration with FSAE, the team was a benchmark, and helped in the development of the Formula SAE Electric category both in Australasia and other international competitions.