Student ‘garage innovators’ unveil future green vehicle technology solutions at the
Washington Auto Show
Since February 3rd, 2009, the EcoCar Challenge Green Garage has become an icon of innovation,
emblematic of a spirit of invention that has produced some of North America’s greatest inventions.
A next generation of garage innovators emerges, ready to spark new invention, and to do so for the good of the planet and its future generations. This is the Green Garage.
The Green Garage
The Green Garage (www.green-garage.org) is a virtual portal, and beyond its doors are 17 teams of emerging innovators that comprise EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, an unprecedented public/private partnership that provides invaluable experience and training to the next generation of engineers developing future clean vehicle technology solutions. Today, the 17 EcoCAR teams, selected from universities across North America, unveiled their long-awaited vehicle architectures at the Washington Auto Show.
EcoCAR was established by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), and it is sponsored by the Government of Canada, as well as other high-profile sponsors, including the newly announced California Air Resources Board (see today’s EcoCAR sponsorship press release for additional information). EcoCAR challenges university engineering students across North America to re-engineer a 2009 GM Saturn VUE to achieve improved fuel efficiency and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal.
“Our world is experiencing dramatic changes, and we’re looking to a next generation of engineers across North America to help spark innovation in the way we design and build vehicle propulsion systems,” said Britta Gross, manager, Hydrogen and Electrical Infrastructure Commercialization for General Motors. “This competition allows us to work alongside policy-makers, academia and other industry stakeholders
to improve vehicles and increase our knowledge. Our hope is that the Green Garage vision doesn’t end with a re-engineered Saturn VUE, but that it endures as an ongoing legacy of innovation through the future careers of these engineering graduates.”
Each of the 17 EcoCAR teams will test the boundaries of advanced vehicle design and sustainable mobility. The EcoCAR Challenge isn’t focused on one technology or fuel, but instead will test multiple technologies in a variety of combinations. Although each team had proposed specific variations, the teams selected from four design platforms to develop a Full Function Electric Vehicle (FFEV) as their primary vehicle.
2010 EcoCar Challenge – Mississippi State Rules Again
Back in May 27, 2010, the Mississippi State University placed first in the 2010 EcoCAR. Mississippi State University competed against 15 other universities to win first place in Year Two Finals of the three-year competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors (GM). The competition challenges university engineering students from across North America to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety and performance.
During the second year of the EcoCAR competition, the teams utilized cutting-edge automotive engineering processes, such as Hardware in the Loop (HIL) simulation, to move their designs into the physical vehicles. Once the vehicles were built and rolled out of their respective Green Garages – or design and construction shops – they went through a series of safety and technical tests at GM’s Desert Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz., similar to those conducted on production vehicles. Each of the cars was evaluated based on the ability to decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and maintain consumer acceptability in the areas of performance, utility and safety.
The Mississippi State University EcoCAR team chose to design an EREV hybrid with a 21.3 kWh A123Systems battery pack which provides an electric range of 60 miles. It’s also equipped with a 1.3 L GM turbodiesel engine and 75 kW UQM generator in a series plug-in configuration. During testing, the vehicle’s fuel economy stood out, achieving 118 miles per gallon gas equivalent (combined city/highway cycle). In addition to the overall winner’s award, Mississippi State won nine additional awards including performance events in auto-cross and acceleration.
“This was our most challenging year and stakes were high to have our vehicle ready for inspections. To finish a year of hard work and long hours in first place is an incredible honor for me and my teammates,” said Matt Doude from Mississippi State University. “We look forward to the next chapter of the competition – with so much talent among the schools it will not be an easy road to another victory. But it’s this rigorous, hands-on process that gives us the valuable experience we’ll need in the workplace.”
“During the last 12 months, these teams faced a difficult challenge – to build an innovative vehicle and continually refine and improve its operation. These students demonstrated extreme determination and commitment to make their vision a reality, and it is with great pleasure that I congratulate Mississippi State on its outstanding work and well-deserved first-place finish,” said Pat Davis, program manager of DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Program. “The students’ hard work goes beyond this competition – each EcoCAR team member’s contribution and innovation is also helping to build a cleaner energy future.”
“These students worked tirelessly in their Green Garages building the next generation of clean vehicles and their progress has exceeded our expectations. Each team experimented with technologies and made great strides towards optimizing fuel efficiency and minimizing emissions,” said Karl Stracke, Vice President, Global Vehicle Engineering for General Motors. “With critical and successful testing under their belts, we’re excited to see the teams refine and improve their vehicles in the last leg of the EcoCAR competition.”
More from The Green Living Guy:
1. Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman and Bob Brandt
2. Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman
3. Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel