Whenever I hear about New Zealand these days, there’s a good chance that the news is going to be about something really technological and cool. The country will forever carry the honor of being the first to deliver pizza via drone, and it’s the home of what seems to be a very high concentration of brilliant minds at universities, museums, and other research institutions. Recently we’ve learned about New Zealanders developing synthetic bioprinted wood, using 3D scanning as an advanced educational tool, and now, working towards the creation of the country’s first 3D printed electric car.
Ira Munn is an entrepreneur in residence at Accelerating Aeotearoa, an organization dedicated to empowering New Zealanders through digital technology. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, Munn moved to New Zealand with his wife in 2015 to start a business called Ierospace Industries International, currently in the pre-launch phase. Over the course of the past year, he’s been working on the development of The Drop, a 3D printed electric car with only three wheels.3D printed from recycled materials, The Drop is all-around eco-friendly, as well as practical: it’s being designed for commuters, with a battery range of up to 300 kilometers. Munn expects a prototype to be completed by August, and the car itself to be on the market by March 2018, priced at about $10,000. Last year, the government of New Zealand announced a new electric vehicle program, aimed at doubling the number of electric vehicles in the country to reach about 64,000 by 2021.
“I’m excited about Ierospace having a role in helping accomplish that goal,” said Munn. “I want our footpaths for pedestrians to be safe from vehicle exhausts…we’ll be improving the environment in many ways.”
He’s also working with Accelerating Aeotearoa and partner organization Accelerating Auckland to help New Zealand students learn more about 3D printing, in part by involving them in the development of The Drop. Engineering students from Massey University, a school that’s been active with its use of 3D printing and scanning technology, are working with Munn to 3D print the car’s components. In September, he’ll be showcasing The Drop along with Massey University’s 3D printer at evworld New Zealand, the country’s first electric vehicle conference and showcase.He hopes that through his work with Accelerating Aeotearoa and Accelerating Auckland, he can reach more young people and get them involved in 3D printing. Although New Zealand has been producing quite a bit in terms of emerging technology, Munn believes the country is capable of much more.
“I think there’s a lot of creativity here in south Auckland that hasn’t been unlocked yet,” he said.
While the development of The Drop and the establishment of Ierospace Industries International may take up a lot of Munn’s time, he’s also active in Accelerating Auckland initiatives such as Geek Camp, a series of free workshops that teaches young teenagers digital skills. While he’s not the first to create a 3D printed electric car, he’s the first to do so in New Zealand, and he’s looking forward to introducing the country to an even more efficient and eco-friendly automobile.
“It’s a first for New Zealand and I’m really excited that New Zealand can have an electric car it can call its own,” Munn said.
Discuss in the 3D Printed Electric Car forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: Stuff/Fairfax NZ]