Thursday, August 19, 2010

Grand Bahama resident builds the island's first hybrid car

Freeport, Grand Bahama: (August 16th, 2010)The team at McGibbon's Auto, along with summer student James Tuchel (in green) stand next to Grand Bahamas’ very first H20 Hybrid demonstration vehicle development in only 2 months. Seen here left to right: Moses Messam, Technician; Alex Bethel, Third year Automotive Student; Keith Johnson, Technician; James Tuchel, Third year Mechanical Engineering Student; Avelaino McGibbon, Automotive Professional Engineer & President McGibbons Auto; Abigail McGibbon, 7 year old daughter of Avelaino McGibbon, and promising engineer; and Wilneve Rodney, Technician. Photo: The Bahamas Weekly

 YOU can't miss it on the road. The very first Bahamian-made hybrid demonstration vehicle is clearly marked "water powered car" - and means what it says.

This vehicle uses water to greatly increase fuel economy - preliminary tests suggest up to 30 per cent - while dramatically reducing harmful exhaust emissions. It was built on the island in less than two months using locally available materials.

The car is the brainchild of 19-year-old James Tuchel, son of Laurie and Charles Tuchel who have been residents of Grand Bahama since 2002.

Proud moment for sponsors and the team - Craig Stewart - Dolly Madison Roger Charlton (Back) Sunny Isles Cheryl Bain - Teigs signs Penny Roberts - Sunny Isles Henry Ferguson- 242 Mobile James Tuchel Alex Bethel Chantel Bethel Laurie Tuchel- Reformer Group Andrew Tuchel - Reformer Group Abigail McGibbon - McGibbons Auto Avelaino McGibbon McGibbons Auto. Photos: The Bahamas Weekly

James grew up on Grand Bahama and after graduating with an International Baccalaureate from Lucaya International School, he was accepted into the Mechanical Engineering's masters degree programme at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

James will be returning to the UK shortly for an internship with the Renault Formula 1 racing team before continuing his third year of studies in Scotland.

This summer, James returned to Grand Bahama, not to relax in the sun, but to put his learning to hard work, and with a purpose.

He began a two-month summer apprenticeship with McGibbons Auto under the mentoring of Avelaino McGibbon, a licensed professional automotive mechanical engineer and president of the company.

 The adaptation center in the glove box which controls the fuel mixture as well as the hydrogen production process. Photo: The Bahamas Weekly

Many years ago, Mr McGibbon left Grand Bahama to study automotive engineering in Detroit and graduated from the General Motors Institute (now called Kettering University).

While in the US, he engineered several automobiles for GM, Ford, Chrysler and other auto manufactures, as well as amusement rides for Walt Disney and Universal studios.

Among his accomplishments was the Super Sport Roadster truck for Chevrolet (2003 -2007).

Mr McGibbon is now back on Grand Bahama and is known for sharing his mechanical engineering experience and passion with the community.

He also mentors potential automotive industry students like James; assisting them with interesting and worthwhile projects.

 Celebration in the air! James Tuchel and Alex Bethel crack open the champagne. Photo: The Bahamas Weekly


Mr McGibbon encouraged James to select from a few future projects that McGibbons Auto plans to debut in the future. James chose the hybrid project, knowing that accomplishing it would require planning, hands-on work, and an understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering, thermodynamics and fluid flow.

James' car uses the 12volt electrical energy in the vehicle battery to separate drinking water into hydrogen and oxygen - which in turn are used to boost the internal combustion process.

The pair believe that they will one day be able to make the car run solely on water.

Mr McGibbon congratulated James for his "enthusiasm, drive and commitment" and wished him well in his future endeavors.

"With such experience behind him, we see the possibility of a rock-solid engineer who is destined to make a future impact," he said.

Mr McGibbon said he will continue to develop energy efficient, clean vehicles specifically for local use.

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