Automotive

Minddrive electric Karmann Ghia powered by social media ... sort of

Minddrive electric Karmann Ghi...
The motor of Minddrive's electric Karmann Ghia will only engage if it gets enough tweets, likes and shares
The motor of Minddrive's electric Karmann Ghia will only engage if it gets enough tweets, likes and shares
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The Ghia's motor will only engage when enough social media activity is detected
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The Ghia's motor will only engage when enough social media activity is detected
Students install the Li-ion batteries
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Students install the Li-ion batteries
Working on the Ghia's dashboard mold
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Working on the Ghia's dashboard mold
Preparing the electric motor for installation
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Preparing the electric motor for installation
The reshaped and restored Ghia is given a fresh coat of paint
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The reshaped and restored Ghia is given a fresh coat of paint
Team Ghia working on the car's electrics
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Team Ghia working on the car's electrics
Mentor Buck Buchner and student Kelvin Duly discuss the finer points of electric conversion
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Mentor Buck Buchner and student Kelvin Duly discuss the finer points of electric conversion
The Minddrive students working on the 1967 VW Karmann Ghia
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The Minddrive students working on the 1967 VW Karmann Ghia
Stripping, cleaning up and reshaping the Ghia's bodywork
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Stripping, cleaning up and reshaping the Ghia's bodywork
The vehicle has been fitted with an Arduino device that's designed to monitor social networking activity relating to the project
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The vehicle has been fitted with an Arduino device that's designed to monitor social networking activity relating to the project
The non-profit educational program teaches the youngsters new skills
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The non-profit educational program teaches the youngsters new skills
Mentor and students molding and shaping
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Mentor and students molding and shaping
The once battered, rusty shell of a 1967 VW Karmann Ghia is whipped into shape
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The once battered, rusty shell of a 1967 VW Karmann Ghia is whipped into shape
Almost ready for its trip from KC to DC
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Almost ready for its trip from KC to DC
The motor of Minddrive's electric Karmann Ghia will only engage if it gets enough tweets, likes and shares
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The motor of Minddrive's electric Karmann Ghia will only engage if it gets enough tweets, likes and shares
Close up of the newly-painted and freshly-buffed vehicle
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Close up of the newly-painted and freshly-buffed vehicle
The frame gets a new paint job
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The frame gets a new paint job
Steve Rees and mentor Elvis Butler check the components
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Steve Rees and mentor Elvis Butler check the components
All hands needed to get the rusty Ghia ready for restoration and electric conversion
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All hands needed to get the rusty Ghia ready for restoration and electric conversion
Smoothing over the bumps and filling in the cracks
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Smoothing over the bumps and filling in the cracks
Restoration work in full swing
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Restoration work in full swing
All the hard work will soon pay off
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All the hard work will soon pay off
Students working on the wiring
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Students working on the wiring
The new electric Ghia's first test run
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The new electric Ghia's first test run
The team (and Ghia) pose for the camera outside the offices of sponsors VML
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The team (and Ghia) pose for the camera outside the offices of sponsors VML

Working with Minddrive mentors, a group of at-risk teenagers has restored a beat up 1967 VW Karmann Ghia and converted it to battery-electric power. The newly-painted and freshly-buffed vehicle will shortly begin a rather interesting journey from Kansas City to Washington. The car has been fitted with a device that monitors social network traffic relating to the project and for every tweet, like or share registered, battery juice points are generated. If there's no social buzz, the car doesn't go anywhere.

Last year, Minddrive mentors helped a bunch of at-risk high school students from the Kansas City area to convert a donated 1977 Lotus Esprit into a sporty two-seater electric vehicle. The Project Lotus team then embarked on a coast-to-coast road trip across America. A tough act to follow, but the latest electric conversion project from the non-profit educational program adds a novel twist to the proceedings.

Students and mentors have reshaped and restored the once battered, rusty shell of a 1967 VW Karmann Ghia and whipped it into the shiny new battery-electric vehicle you see below. As with Team Lotus, a road trip has been planned to show off the car and help raise awareness about Minddrive. This time, though, the power of social media will determine whether or not the Ghia makes it all the way from Kansas City to Washington.

The new electric Ghia's first test run
The new electric Ghia's first test run

The vehicle has been fitted with an Arduino device that's designed to monitor social networking activity relating to the project. The number of tweets, likes, views and shares on the social media channels of Minddrive and its sponsors will effectively control whether the car's motor engages or not.

A follow on Twitter will be translated into 5 watts for the Ghia. A mention, retweet, reply or the use of the #minddrive hashtag results in 3 watts being added to the pot. Facebook gets in on the action too, with each "like" equivalent to 1 watt, but if you comment or share a post about the project you'll generate 3 watts every time. Instagram photo tags are also worth 3 watts, as are comments, but likes of posts on the project only stump up a single watt.

Minddrive has created a promotional video about the Ghia project, which you can see below, but we're also providing the YouTube link since every view is worth 3 watts.

2013 MINDDRIVE Social Fuel Tour

There's also a petition running which calls on the current administration to help incubate and support organizations like Minddrive, and for everyone who adds a signature, 10 watts is added to the meter.

"The Social Fuel Tour takes education out of the classroom and on the road," Minddrive's founder and CEO Richard Stephen Rees is quoted as saying in the project's press release. "The goal of the tour is to start a national conversation about experiential learning. The education system in America is broken, and programs like Minddrive are helping to transform the education system outside of the political gridlock."

A 20-strong group of students will be accompanied by mentors for the duration of the trip, which kicks off tomorrow at a press conference to be held at Kansas City's Union Station. Representatives from the VML marketing agency in Kansas will also be on hand to support the Tour, while also monitoring social engagement via the company's SEER social listening platform. The team will be stopping off at numerous points along the route, including Springfield, Indianapolis, Akron and Pittsburgh, to share their story with locals, and strike some poses for the media.

The team (and Ghia) pose for the camera outside the offices of sponsors VML
The team (and Ghia) pose for the camera outside the offices of sponsors VML

At the time of writing, the Ghia project has already attracted nearly 166,000 watts from the various social media channels.

Later this year, the team hopes to complete the first Series II production prototype based on the Ghia. Designed as a kit car for low speed urban travel, the vehicle will have a range of 30 miles (48 km) and be capable of a top speed of 45 mph (72 km/h). The first car should be ready by October and Minddrive reports that orders have already been placed.

Source: Minddrive

2 comments
Mark A
Good job. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more about the project.
Nairda
Excellent work. All it needs is headlights that have a slightly green hue to them, to complete that electric Gattaca car look. :) http://www.imcdb.org/i003930.jpg Love the idea of restoring old classics but making them electrics with upgraded chassis/breaking/interior to improve safety, handling and comfort. I was leaning more towards a 1967 Cadillac Eldorado for the task, but that fell through when I looked at all the cost of doing the conversion right :b