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The dark gray Jeep Wrangler, modified to run off batteries instead of gasoline, wowed the judges at the Pennsylvania state science fair. The year was 1999, and electric vehicles of any kind were still a novelty in the United States. But then the judges took a closer look at the high school students who had converted the Jeep-mostly black teenagers from an inner-city Philadepphia neighborhood-and decided they couldn't possibly have done the work themselves. So the judges passed the e-jeep by, awarding their highest rankings to lesser projects.