Blog | team marine

  • HALO Honorees Team Marine Convert Classic VW Bug To Electric Vehicle

    Posted on 09/20/2013 by Rachel1016


    Photo Credit: Benjamin Kay


    As you've probably heard, the 2013 HALO Awards are coming this November! Since 2009, the HALO Awards have recognized outstanding teens who go above and beyond to make the world a better place. One of the coolest things about the HALO Awards is being able to see the amazing work of past honorees long after they've been recognized by TeenNick. So this week, we caught up with 2009 HALO Honorees Team Marine, a Santa Monica-based student environmental science and advocacy group, and we learned that they're about unveil a mind-blowingly AWESOME project.

    Photo Credit: Benjamin Kay


    Four years in the making, the all-star students of Team Marine have completed the conversion of a '71 Volkswagen Bug into an all-electric vehicle. Basically, this means this cruiser can take on the freeway without relying on gas. The record-breaking car is the first known 100+ mile range plug-in retrofitted by high school students, and when it comes to incorporating sustainability into our everyday life, electric cars are a large part of the solution.

    Photo Credit: Benjamin Kay


    So, just how did these environmental whiz kids make it happen? Former Team Marine co-captain, Ivan Morales, gave us the lowdown: "This project began in 2009 when the Poon-Fear family donated the Bug to Team Marine for a gas to electric conversion project. Team Marine members from different years have worked on making this conversion a reality. The first step was removing gasoline related components. Another team purchased and installed the motor while another performed measurements to find how many batteries could fit in the car. As such, this project was a collaborative effort among different students over a span of 4 years."

    Being that the team is comprised of high schoolers, the number of students that make up Team Marine varies from year to year. Angelina Hwang, current co-captian of Team Marine gave us some insight on how different members take on different roles: "As members graduate and new members join the organization, we adapt to different roles. For members such as myself who have been part of Team Marine since the initial stages of the car, we have had the chance to work directly with the car conversion process. Members who recently joined Team Marine have been focusing on the media coverage and publicity aspects of the car project." 

    Photo Credit: Benjamin Kay
    While undertaking such a monstrous feat, the members of Team Marine had to overcome several obstacles like securing funding for expensive parts. Morales mentioned that thanks to Megan Kilroy, who won the TeenNick HALO award in 2009, the team was about to use grant money to purchase the motor early in the process. From a logistical perspective, Hwang mentioned the team had no prior knowledge of the conversion process, so they had to learn from experts in their community. Talk about determination! Patricio Guerrero, the VW Conversion Project Team Lead for Team Marine, also stressed how important it was to balance priorities in the user experience: "We needed to keep in mind that all the components had to be visible so people could easily see how the car worked but at the same time we needed to keep it safe and working properly." 

    The team plans to debut the car, cleverly named Volts Wattson, at the Santa Monica AltCar Expo this weekend. But their initiative doesn't stop there! Team Marine member Katie Oran says, "After the debut of the car at the AltCar Expo we plan on using the car as a 'lesson plan on wheels' teaching as many people about electric cars, renewable energy, and the effects that combustion cars have on the environment; especially ocean acidification and climate change." That is a mighty check-list, my friends. As if you needed any more convincing, these kids are doing big things. 


    Photo Credit: Benjamin Kay


    We asked the members of Team Marine what advice they might have for other students who are interested in becoming involved in environmental advocacy, but may not have an outlet like Team Marine. They said that activism doesn't necessarily mean that you have to join an official organization; it starts with lifestyle changes. Whether it's buying a reusable water bottle or cutting down on your plastic use, small steps can make a big difference. And we couldn't agree more. 


    Feeling inspired by the superstars of Team Marine? Want to show us how YOU work to make the world a better place?! We're collecting videos of teens giving back and we want to see you! Show us your HALOing moves by uploading a Vine or InstaVid to Twitter @TeenNick using the hashtag #HALOawards. There's even a chance your video could appear on air! Be sure to come back soon for more details about the 2013 HALO Awards coming to you in November!