Kombi EV conversion inspires school STEM curriculum teaching resource

An icon of the 60s and 70s the Kombi is finding new life as a STEM teaching resource.
Aug 24, 2021
Yet another use for a KOmbi

The EV conversion of a Kombi has now been turned into a series of digital resources about renewable energy, illustrating the difference between diesel and electric engines, what engineers do and the variety of careers available in engineering.

The project was completed at Southern Cross University’s Northern Rivers campus in Lismore NSW, and Vice President (Engagement) Ben Roche, whose portfolio managed the Kombi conversion, said it was a fantastic project to engage the next generation of transport engineers and energy specialists.

“Apart from being a fun way to explain electric motors and renewable energy, it’s a great example of hands-on learning and demonstrating the sustainable solutions we can develop now to meet the needs of our communities now and in the future,” Mr Roche said.

“We know school students are deeply engaged with ideas of sustainability and the future. This resource shows how universities can be a place for putting ideas and passion into actions and developing real, practical solutions to the problems we face.”

The Southern Cross University Electric Kombi Conversion Curriculum Package has the endorsement of the STEM Industry Schools Partnerships (SISP) program, an initiative of the NSW Department of Education’s Educational Standards Directorate.

Dr Scott Sleap, leader of SISP program, said he was thrilled to support the development of an exciting new resource that aligns with the objectives of the iSTEM course, a NSW Department of Education approved elective.

“This project is a brilliant example of how an industry project can be used to engage, inspire and develop students’ desire for careers in STEM using real world examples,” said Dr Sleap.

“It is invaluable to be able to work with partners like Southern Cross to bring these examples to life
in the classroom and open students’ minds to the multitude of possibilities in the STEM space.”

Adopting a student-focused, inquiry-based model, the Southern Cross University Electric Kombi Conversion Curriculum Package is a unique unit program that includes a detailed unit map of 30 lesson plans that align with the iSTEM program outcomes and objectives including the iSTEM Process for STEM inquiry.

It was developed by Simone Blom and Dave Ellis, PhD researchers in the University’s Faculty of Education.The Kombi conversion project received funding from Investment NSW’s Boosting Business Innovation Program.
Andy Naughton, of electric classic car conversion business EV Machina, is the Southern Cross University Environmental Science graduate who was commissioned to undertake the conversion.

Mr Naughton, who won a 2018 Clean Energy Hackathon competition through the University’s Enterprise Lab, said the project was a good example of innovation in action.

“This particular combination of the range, the power, the idiosyncrasies of a Kombi – all add up to make it one-of-a kind electric vehicle conversion.

“And we had to learn along the way – there was no workshop manual for this one,” said Mr Naughton.

The Kombi
The vehicle’s EV conversion features:
•    Motor: 88kW AC SRIPM electric motor with custom-built aluminium transmission adapter plate attached to original transmission
•    Batteries: 53kWh water-cooled lithium battery pack (10 x 5.3kWh batteries)
•    Braking: Electric pump-boosted disc brakes with additional motor braking for regenerative braking increasing efficiency
•    Power steering: Speed-variable custom electric power steering system
•    Gears: 4-speed gearbox
•    Dashboard connectivity: Web-connected display with android operating system and OBD connection to motor and battery information; reverse camera
•    Cruising speed: 110km/h highway cruising speed
•    Optimum highway range: 200 - 200 kilometres
•    Optimum urban traffic range: 250+ kilometres

The Kombi EV Conversion STEM resource
The Southern Cross University Electric Kombi Curriculum Package resource includes:
•    Video packages
•    Practical lessons

Download from www.iteachstem.com.au