Maui News

UH Maui College Auto Students Build Hybrid Model

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  • Photo: Student Jordan Rodrigues. PC: UHMC.
  • Instructor Lawrence Martinson and students Jordan Rodrigues and Chris Ann Alejo. PC: UHMC
  • Instructor Lawrence Martinson and student Aukai Vista. PC: UH Maui College,

The automotive shop at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College is celebrating the build of both hybrid and CVT transmission models.

“We received a donation of a Generation 1 Prius Hybrid and working with two student assistants, we were able to pull the engine and transmission out of the car, clean it and cut away the case to create what’s called a ‘cutaway model’,” said Lawrence Martinson, UHMC’s Automotive Technology Program Coordinator.

Martinson explained that its is much easier to teach how the electric motors drive the vehicle in conjunction with the gas engine “when you can see the internal components without the casing.”


Typically, cutaway models like this sell for about $30,000 and even without
budget cuts, purchasing one would not have been possible. Beyond that, the
experience of pulling out the engine and transmission, cleaning everything, cutting it and rebuilding to create the model was “very cool because it’s an example of our students applying their learning now to also benefit future students,” said Martinson.

Administrators say students are enthusiastic about the project and even more about the future of automotive technology and their place in it.

“I believe that hybrid and electric vehicles will become an average thing within the automotive industry. Hybrid vehicles are becoming more common, they already make turbocharged hybrid motors. I believe within the near future they will design a hybrid diesel motor. Also the technology in inverters and battery will advance and last longer, proving more efficient,” said student Jordan Rodrigues.


“This was a fun project to work on. I think hybrid vehicles will become more popular in the future. And with the amount of new technology coming out, there will be also more self-driving cars available,” said student Aukai Vista.

This semester, the class is also working on a cutaway model of a Honda CVT
(Continuously Variable Transmission). “Up until this point, we’ve been teaching with virtual aids,” said Martinson. “Having models, makes all the difference.”

For information about the UH Maui College Automotive Technology program,
please visit


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