GM, the US Department of Energy, Natural Resources Canada and others are sponsoring a new national collegiate competition series to re-engineer a GM vehicle to achieve improved fuel economy and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal. EcoCAR: the NeXT Challenge will begin in the Fall of 2008.
Students will design and build advanced propulsion solutions that emulate the vehicle categories from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) requirements. Students will be encouraged to explore a variety of solutions including electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cells.
In addition, they will incorporate lightweight materials, improve aerodynamics and utilize alternative fuels and energy carriers such as ethanol, biodiesel, hydrogen and electricity.
EcoCAR will follow the successful student engineering competition, “Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility,” also sponsored by GM and the US Department of Energy, along with other government, automotive and technology industry partners.
The Challenge X student engineering competition, which began in 2004 and concludes in May 2008, includes 17 North American universities, which have re-engineered a Chevrolet Equinox with alternative propulsion systems to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions.
EcoCAR will launch in the 2008-2009 academic year as a three-year program with General Motors providing production vehicles and parts, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The US Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, will provide competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support.
EcoCAR is a reflection of GM’s philosophy that there is no single silver bullet that will solve the world’s energy challenges. “Our approach is based on energy diversity and customer choice, using advanced propulsion technologies that play a significant role in displacing large amounts of petroleum and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.—Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Global GM Powertrain and Quality
In the first year teams develop their vehicle designs through the use of GM’s Global Vehicle Development Process—the modeling simulation process currently used to develop all of GM’s vehicles. Sophisticated hardware in the loop (HIL) and software in the loop (SIL) systems will be designed, and teams challenged to model and engineer the subsystems into their design.
During Years Two and Three, students will build the vehicle and continue to refine, test, and improve vehicle operation. At the end of Years Two and Three, the re-engineered student vehicle prototypes will compete in a week-long competition of engineering tests. These tests will be similar to the tests GM conducts to determine a prototype’s readiness for a production decision.
A selection process open to all accredited engineering schools in the US, Canada and Mexico will begin 3 December 2007, and approximately 16 teams will be selected in April 2008 for the competition.
EcoCAR: the NeXt Challenge will have its own web site at www.ecocar.us.com. Until that site is complete, updates on the program will be posted on the ChallengeX site (www.challengex.org).