EcoCAR The Next Challenge

Over the course of three years, EcoCAR teams had to reduce the environmental impact of a Saturn Vue by minimizing the vehicle’s fuel consumption and reducing its emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance, safety and consumer appeal.

Teams had to meet the competition’s technical goals, which included incorporating technologies that reduced petroleum energy consumption on the basis of a total fuel cycle well-to-wheel (WTW) analysis, increase vehicle energy efficiency, reduce criteria and well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria emissions, and maintain consumer acceptability in the areas of performance, utility and safety.



  • EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge marked the first time a controller hardware-in-the loop activity was introduced into an academic setting, providing teams the opportunity to test control software before driving the vehicle
  • All competition vehicles featured some plug-in capability.
  • The competition marked the first time in AVTCs where teams designed their own energy storage systems, using lithium ion prismatic cell technology
  • Teams used tools such as Powertrain Systems and Analysis Toolkit (PAST) to help define their vehicle technical specifications and architectures what would satisfy those spec’s
  • Mississippi State University achieved 118 MPGGE (miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent)
  • on the EcoCAR Cycle in Year Two
  • EcoCAR teams followed industry-standard design practices such as  DFMEA and fault tree analysis to develop their control systems
  • Ohio State University built powertrain controllers from the ground up in an impressive and industrial-grade display of Model-Based Design with automatic code generation.
  • In Year Three, Virginia Tech was able to increase fuel economy over 70% above the stock vehicle to 81.9 MPGGE  while demonstrating the lowest tailpipe emissions (Tier 2 bin 2) amongst all teams with combustion engines
  • University of Ontario Institute of Technology built a custom designed Li+ pack based on Kokam technology
  • In Year Three, two hydrogen fuel cell vehicles placed in the top 6 overall – an AVTC first!
  • During Year One, teams had to produce a trade show display that highlighted and featured powertrain components
  • The program offered fellowships to communication students provided by Clean Cities – a first in AVTC history!
  • The University of Waterloo developed a carbon fiber hood for their vehicle in Year Three
  • In Year Three, the University of Victoria had a 0-60 MPH acceleration time of 6.35 seconds!
  • EcoCAR introduced emissions and energy consumption events very similar to real-world plug-in hybrid vehicle testing that used SAE J2841 and J1711 standards to utility factor-weight electricity consumption in vehicles that do and do not have charge depleting ranges
  • Teams utilized Rapid Control Prototyping Systems to develop advanced controller and communication based models of production vehicle
  • Ohio State University developed and deployed a dual clutch automated manual transmission in their E85 PHEV