Environmental Protection

Virginia Tech Wins EcoCAR Competition With an ExtendedRange Electric Vehicle

Students from Virginia Tech University learned last night that their teamwork, perseverance and hard work have led to top honors when they were named the overall winners of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge after designing and building an exceptional extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) using E85 (ethanol).

Throughout the three-year competition, the Virginia Tech team hit incremental goals that helped the vehicle achieve fuel efficiency of 81.9 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent, or 70 percent over the stock vehicle, positioning them above the rest. Virginia Tech's EREV out-performed its competitors earlier this month when it was put through a series of safety and technical tests at General Motor's Proving Ground in Milford, Mich., tests similar to those conducted on GM production vehicles.

"Designing an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 was challenging, but clearly worth it in the end," said Patrick Walsh, co-team leader for Virginia Tech. "The entire team has put so much time and effort into designing and refining our vehicle, and we've gained valuable knowledge and hands-on experience that will prepare us for our engineering careers."

"The ingenuity and dedication shown by the students of Virginia Tech in building this next-generation vehicle will help them launch careers as leaders in the clean energy field," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "With the experience and skills these innovative students have gained through the EcoCAR competition, they will help reduce our nation's reliance on oil imports and keep U.S. industries competitive in the global marketplace."

Taking second place, also with an EREV using E85 was Ohio State University. Ohio State was a strong competitor and its vehicle was well balanced in all aspects of consumer acceptability, fuel economy and acceleration categories.

The University of Waterloo took third place with a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Working with an extremely complex architecture was very challenging, and the team was the first in the history of advanced vehicle technology competitions to run a fuel cell vehicle in all the dynamic events during finals.

Virginia Tech competed against 15 other universities to take home the top prize of the three-year competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors (GM). The competition challenged participating engineering students from across North America to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety and performance.

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