EcoCAR The Next Challenge

Since the beginning, more than 93 universities across North America and 16,500 students have participated in AVTCs. Each year, 200-500 students join forces in AVTCs mission of educating the next generation of automotive engineers and advancing state-of-the-art fuels and vehicle technologies.

During EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, 16 universities from North America competed over the three-year span of the competition. These universities included:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

  • Location: Daytona, Florida
  • Vehicle Design: The EcoEagles’ vehicle was a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), which consisted of a GM 1.3 L diesel engine running on B20 biodiesel, a GM two-mode transmission, and an A123 Systems 330 V, 12.9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The vehicle was able to drive approximately 20 miles on electric-only power. Once the battery was depleted, the vehicle switched to hybrid mode with the engine turning on to sustain the battery and power the vehicle.
  • Faculty Advisors: Darris White and Marc Compere

Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia
  • Vehicle Design: The GT team investigated several hybrid vehicle architectures and components to determine which would allow the team to achieve the competition goals. The GT team decided to implement a split hybrid powertrain, in which the vehicle dynamically changed between parallel and series operational modes. The team planned to double the vehicle’s city mileage and increase its highway efficiency by 40 percent by replacing the 2.4 L engine with a 1.6 L ethanol engine and adding a hybrid transmission, electric motor and gearing, and a lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Faculty Advisors: Tom Fuller and David Taylor

Howard University*

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Vehicle Design: The Howard University EcoCAR team designed a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The vehicle powertrain featured a GM 1.3 liter diesel engine, and the two-mode powersplit transmission. The engine ran on B20 biodiesel developed in a campus-wide cooking oil reclamation project. The electrical storage system was comprised of a lithium-ion battery pack from A123 systems.
  • Faculty Advisor: Jason Canley, James Hammonds, and Grant Warner

Michigan Technological University

  • Location: Houghton, Michigan
  • Vehicle Design: Michigan Technological University’s design consisted of a GM E85-compatible, 3.9 L engine longitudinally mounted in the engine bay with a two-mode transmission. A 55 kW Azure Dynamics electric motor mated to a Corvette differential powered the rear wheels, giving the vehicle all-wheel drive capabilities. Plug-in charging allowed the vehicle to be charged when not in use. The power was stored in a 21.3 kWh battery pack provided by A123 Systems.
  • Faculty Advisors: John Beard, Josh Loukus and Adam Loukus

Mississippi State University

  • Location: Starkville, Mississippi
  • Vehicle Design: The Mississippi State University team chose to build an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV). The vehicle’s 21.3 kWh A123 Systems battery pack provided an all-electric range of greater than 60 miles. Once the battery was depleted, the vehicle relied on a 1.3 L GM turbodiesel engine coupled to a 75 kW UQM generator to power the vehicle during its charge-sustaining mode. Tractive power was provided by 125 kW and 145 kW UQM motors powering the front and rear wheels, respectively.
  • Faculty Advisor: Marshall Molen

Missouri University of Science and Technology

  • Location: Rolla, Missouri
  • Vehicle Design: The Missouri S&T team designed a cutting-edge hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FC PHEV). This technology represented a dramatic transformation of the vehicle’s powertrain system. The powertrain consisted of a 95 kW polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cell, coupled with an 80 kW continuous power electric motor that includes regenerative braking. Additional power and range was provided by a 16.1 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
  • Faculty Advisor: John Sheffield

North Carolina State University

  • Location: Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Vehicle Design: The NC State team worked on an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) architecture. Major donated components included the GM 101X ETS electric drive motor, a 1.3 L SDE four-cylinder diesel engine from GM, and a cutting-edge prismatic lithium-ion battery from A123 Systems. The team used B20 biodiesel as the fuel to extend the range of their EREV.
  • Faculty Advisor: Terry Gilbert and Eric Klang

Ohio State University

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Vehicle Design: The Ohio State University team’s vehicle architecture was an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV). The design featured a 21.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with a 103 kW rear electric machine which provided primary drive power and regenerative braking. In addition, the design utilized a 1.8 L high-compression engine recalibrated for E85 fuel, coupled with an 82 kW front electric motor/generator via an innovative twin-clutch transmission. This transmission design allowed the vehicle to operate in a series or parallel hybrid mode and enabled front axle regenerative braking.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Giorgio Rizzoni and Dr. Shawn Midlam-Mohler

Penn State University

  • Location: University Park, Pennsylvania
  • Vehicle Design: Penn State’s vehicle architecture was an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) with an electric range of 30-40 miles. The vehicle used a 1.3 L GM diesel engine to drive a 75 kW electric generator that produced electricity to charge the energy-dense, air‐cooled lithium-ion battery pack. Finally, a 120 kW electronic traction system was used to propel the vehicle.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Daniel Haworth and Gary Neal

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

  • Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
  • Vehicle Design: The Rose-Hulman EcoCAR team’s vehicle was an all-wheel drive parallel pre/post transmission hybrid-electric powertrain. A 1.3 L, four-cylinder GM turbodiesel engine rated at 71 kW (95 hp), which used B20 biodiesel and was assisted by 37 kW (50 hp) TM4 electric motor, were connected to a GM four-speed transmission. A second 37 kW TM4 motor was attached to the rear axle for enhanced vehicle acceleration and regenerative braking.  In addition, a custom 11.3 kWh EnerDel lithium-ion battery powered the TM4 motors and offered electrical storage for the regenerative braking. Finally, the Rose-Hulman EcoCAR vehicle had the capability to run in three different powertrain modes: electric only, diesel only, and hybrid.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Zac Chambers and Dr. Marc Herniter

Texas Tech University

  • Location: Lubbock, Texas
  • Vehicle Design: The Texas Tech parallel hybrid utilized a 1.6 L GM Europe four-cylinder engine running on E85 ethanol mated to the GM front-wheel drive, two-mode transaxle. The two-mode vehicle had four traditional fixed gears and two 55 kW electric motors. The motors were powered by a 330 V, 12.7 kWh A123 Systems battery pack. The battery pack allowed the vehicle to use only electric power at low speed and the second electric motor allowed the vehicle to be more efficient at highway speed with the engine on. The vehicle also sported Texas Edition badges adding flair to match the Texas flag on the roof.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Richard Gale, Dr. Stephen Bayne, and Dr. Tim Maxwell

University of Ontario Institute of Technology

  • Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
  • Vehicle Design: The UOIT vehicle was the only full-functional electric vehicle in the EcoCAR competition. The vehicle operated solely from an in-house, custom-designed, liquid-cooled energy storage system consisting of 90 Dow Kokam lithium polymer cells. The stored energy capacity was approximately 80 kWh, which gave the vehicle a range of over 200 miles.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Greg Rohrauer

University of Victoria

  • Location: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • Vehicle Design: The University of Victoria’s vehicle design was an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) with 40 miles of all‐electric plug‐in range provided by a high capacity A123 Systems lithium‐ion battery. The use of a GM two‐mode power-split transmission and separate rear traction motor also enabled AWD functionality. The team’s 2.4 L Ecotec engine was flex‐fuel capable and could run on E85 for reduced emissions and petroleum use. The flexibility of this design was expected to yield low fuel consumption and emissions, while providing a high level of performance.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Zuomin Dong and Dr. Curran Crawford

University of Waterloo

  • Location: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Vehicle Design: UWAFT’s entry into EcoCAR was a fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FC PHEV). The vehicle had an all-electric mode using battery modules from A123 Systems with grid charging capabilities. This all-electric operation blended with a GM hydrogen fuel cell engine that, together with the battery, powered an electric traction system to propel the vehicle.
  • Faculty Advisors: Dr. Roydon Fraser and Dr. Michael Fowler

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Vehicle Design: The team’s vehicle design was considered an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV). A 60 kW electric motor, coupled with a 750 cc turbocharged Weber engine running E85 fuel, powered the front wheels and also had the capability to generate electricity to recharge the battery pack. Additionally, a 75 kW motor was used to power the rear wheels. The lithium-ion battery pack, donated by Johnson Controls-Saft, was capable of propelling the vehicle approximately 25 miles on full electric power.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Glenn Bower

Virginia Tech

  • Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
  • Vehicle Design: HEVT designed, built, and refined a split parallel extended-range electric vehicle (EREV). The vehicle could plug into a standard wall outlet to charge a high energy capacity A123 Systems battery, and run in electric-only mode for more than 65 km (40 miles). Tractive power in electric-only mode provided by a rear axle-mounted 125 kW UQM permanent magnet electric motor with regenerative braking capability. Once the battery was depleted, a 2.4 L GM FlexFuel engine provided additional driving range by burning E85 ethanol and driving a multi-speed automatic transmission on the front axle. A second 8 kW MES-DEA electric motor was used as a belted alternator starter to allow for engine idle-stop, electric energy generation, and engine loading.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Doug Nelson

West Virginia University

  • Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Vehicle Design: The heart of WVU’s vehicle was the GM two-mode electrically variable transmission (EVT), which provided two continuously variable EVT modes and four fixed gear ratios, enabling flexibility to optimize performance efficiency and emissions for a wide range of driving conditions. A fuel efficient 1.3 L, four-cylinder SDE turbodiesel engine rated at 71 kW (95 hp) and 200 N-m (147 ft-lb) peak torque fueled with B20 biodiesel fuel provided primary propulsion power. Electrical energy storage was accomplished with a lithium-ion battery pack composed of four 25S2P battery modules from A123 Systems. Simulation results indicated that the vehicle could achieve 6.2 L/100 km (35 mpg) gasoline equivalent, with well-to-wheels (WTW) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of approximately 150 g/km and WTW PEU of 0.40 kWh/km.
  • Faculty Advisor: Dr. Scott Wayne

*Howard University competed between 2008 and 2009