In 2007, a team of virtually self-funded volunteers began to build an electric vehicle (“Seven”) from scratch in a converted pole barn in central Illinois. They dedicated nearly three years of their lives and sacrificed time with loved ones to answer the challenge the Progressive Insurance Automotive X PRIZE (PIAXP) had put forth: To build a car capable of 100 MPGe. After working their normal 40-hour-a-week jobs, they would meet in the workshop to spend unpaid nights, weekends, and holidays making this dream a reality.
The 2010 team lineup was: Kevin Smith, Team Leader/Engineer; Nate Knappenburger, Electronics Technician; Jen Danzinger, Graphic Artist/ Web Liaison; Josh Spradlin, Graphic Designer/Parts Hound/ Fabricator. Nick Smith, Master Craftsman; Thomas Pasko, Master Automotive Technician; George Kennedy, Engineer.
In June of 2010, at Michigan International Speedway, their homemade, 4 seat, 3155 pound battery electric vehicle achieved 182 MPGe on a 134 mile run. It passed every safety and efficiency test with the exception of one: due to a slipping clutch, the car missed passing the 0-60 MPH acceleration test by 5 seconds and was thereby knocked out of the competition.
Despite losing the chance to win the $5 million prize, this team had already won by proving what was possible. Using a pioneering passion born of American ingenuity, they had accomplished what the automotive industry has yet to do.
On September 16, 2010, Illuminati Motor Works traveled to Washington, D.C., to stand and be counted amongst the many PIAXP teams that dared to improve the automotive industry.
In March 2011, Seven achieved an EPA mileage rating of 207.5 MPGe, surpassing the winning cars in all classes of the Progressive Automotive X PRIZE.