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Ohio State team wins EcoCAR2 competition with E85 series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu

OSU’s series-parallel PHEV. Click to enlarge.

The US Department of Energy and General Motors Co. announced that the Ohio State University (OSU) team was the overall winner of the EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future finals. The OSU team’s engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu featured a series-parallel plug-in hybrid drive with E85-fueled engine technology.

The OSU EcoCar2 Malibu featured an A123 18.9 kWh battery pack used with an 80 kW peak electric machine on the rear axle to provide power to the rear wheels through a single-speed gearbox. The vehicle’s front powertrain utilized a 1.8 L, high-compression-ratio engine recalibrated to run on E85 fuel and an 80 kW peak electric machine to provide power to the front wheels through a six-speed automated manual transmission. The vehicle is capable of operating in charge-depleting, charge-sustaining series and charge-sustaining parallel modes.

EcoCAR 2—a three-year competition managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by the US Department of Energy, GM and 30 other government and industry leaders—gave students the opportunity to gain real-world automotive engineering experience while striving to improve the environmental impact and energy efficiency of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

Over the course of three years, The Ohio State University consistently met incremental goals that strengthened their position against the other university teams, the organizers said. Their series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu excelled at GM’s Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, earlier this month, where it was put through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.

The OSU team’s design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE) (4.7 l/100 km), while using 315 Wh/mile of electricity. The vehicle reduced the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.

The second-place team from the University of Washington (UW) demonstrated the most energy-efficient vehicle, a B20 biodiesel parallel plug-in hybrid reaching 60 MPGGE (3.9 l/100 km) and 333 Wh/mi of electricity, as well as the lowest well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions.

The UW engineers developed a parallel through-the-road (PTTR) plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) architecture. A Remy electric traction motor, assembled by AM Racing, was fitted to the rear of the vehicle to drive the rear wheels. An electric energy storage system from A123 Systems was installed in the former spare tire well to provide power to the rear electric traction motor. Up front, a biodiesel GM 1.7L diesel engine powered the car after full charge depletion. Even after the vehicle enters this charge sustaining mode, the electric motor can still be used to assist the engine and increase the overall vehicle efficiency.

Pennsylvania State University placed third with its E85 series plug-in hybrid. The reengineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu used a front-wheel-drive system with by a 90 kW Magna E-Drive motor. The PSU vehicle had an auxiliary power unit consisting of a Weber MPE 750 engine fueled by E85, coupled to a UQM PowerPhase 75 generator to supply DC power to the high-voltage bus. The vehicle used lithium-ion-phosphate batteries to form the basis for the energy storage system.

For the past three years all 15 EcoCAR 2 teams have worked tirelessly to design the next generation of clean vehicles and we have seen exceptional outcomes. Ohio State stood out amongst the competition and truly did an outstanding job. All of the teams have helped advance innovative vehicle technology and improve the automotive industry and we thank them for their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for this program.

—Ken Morris, vice president, global product integrity, General Motors



This shows that you can add hybrid "through the ground" to increase mileage. This could be retrofitted on many front wheel drive cars, just put a motor driving the rear wheels through a differential with independent suspension. Put the batteries in the trunk to get 50% more miles per gallon.


Damn... my money was on Embry Riddle...

Too bad UofM doesn't have an EcoCAR team...

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