The 15 universities competing in EcoCAR 2 gathered in Yuma, Arizona last week for six days of rigorous vehicle testing and evaluation on drive quality and environmental impact at General Motors Desert Proving Ground. From there, the competition moved to San Diego for a second round of judging by automotive industry experts.
EcoCAR 2 — a three-year competition managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, GM and 30 other government and industry leaders — gives students the opportunity to gain real-world automotive engineering experience while striving to improve the environmental impact and energy efficiency of an already highly-efficient vehicle – the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.
After a year creating and testing their eco-vehicle designs using technologies such as Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) simulation, teams spent the second year of EcoCAR 2 utilizing cutting-edge automotive engineering processes to redesign their Malibu vehicles. Argonne National Laboratory and GM engineers subjected these vehicles to extensive safety inspections and on-road evaluations, similar to those conducted on new GM vehicles. Each car was evaluated on reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions as well as performance, utility and safety.
Pennsylvania State University was named this year’s winner after impressing inspectors and other judges representing various EcoCAR 2 sponsors with its ethanol (E85) plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The team was the first to pass safety and technical inspections, on-road safety evaluation as well as run all the competition dynamic events.
While Penn State won the top prize, it wasn’t the only accomplished team at the Year Two Finals. The second place team, Cal State Los Angles excelled with its ethanol-fueled vehicle and was the first team to complete all the dynamic events. The Ohio State University took third place overall after demonstrating its series-parallel hybrid electric vehicle.
The 15 university teams will now spend Year Three of EcoCAR 2 perfecting their designs before the competition finals in Washington, D.C., in May 2014.