Student engineers participating in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge unveiled their vehicle architectures at the Washington Auto Show. The 17 designs range from systems using on-board hydrogen fuel cells to full battery-electric vehicles.
EcoCAR, which is sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), as well as the Government of Canada, the California Air Resources Board and other government and industry leaders, is a three-year competition that builds on the 19-year history of DOE advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate leading-edge automotive technologies.
During the program, General Motors will provide production vehicles, vehicle components, 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.
Students were encouraged to explore a variety of solutions including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, electric, and extended range electric vehicles. While each of the 17 EcoCAR designs is unique, there are common attributes including:
- All of the vehicles have plug-in capability.
- All of the designs use lithium-ion battery technology.
- All of the vehicles use a renewable energy source that displaces petroleum consumption.
- All of the EcoCAR team architectures must retain the safety and real-world performance characteristics of production vehicles.
Extended Range Electric Vehicles (EREV). Eight of the EcoCAR teams, including Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Mississippi State University, North Carolina State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Wisconsin, University of Victoria and Virginia Tech chose to design Extended Range Electric Vehicles. The EcoCAR Challenge teams that selected an EREV as their architecture will use either B20 or E85 to extend the range of their electric vehicles.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). Six of the seventeen EcoCAR teams, including Georgia Tech, Howard University, Michigan Tech University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Texas Tech, and West Virginia University, have designed Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles which are constructed with a large lithium-ion battery. These architectures will also use either B20 or E85 to extend the range of the vehicles.
Full Function Electric Vehicle (FFEV). Only one team, University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), chose to design a Full Function Electric Vehicle, which has an all-electric motor powering its drive train and has more than 100 miles of range.
Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (FCPHEV). Two of the seventeen EcoCAR teams, including University of Waterloo and Missouri University of Science and Technology, have designed a Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle which uses an onboard hydrogen fuel cell to either propel the vehicle or recharge a battery pack.
At the end of the competition EcoCAR vehicles will be judged on a number of criteria including efficiency, environmental impacts, performance, consumer appeal, safety, quality of workmanship, ride quality, noise and vibration. They will also present numerous aspects of their EcoCAR work such as mechanical, control, and electric engineering accomplishments to judging panels consisting of industry and government subject matter experts.
An EcoCAR website—The Green Garage—
services as a portal for the competition.