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A young guy stomps the accelerator and speeds off in a vehicle. But this isn’t a college kid drag racing his car in a parking lot. This is serious business.  Abram Harder from the North Carolina State team is putting his EcoCAR vehicle to the test for the judges. They are timing how fast he can accelerate from 0-60 and from 50 to 75.

Powerful and fast acceleration is not only fun, it’s an important aspect of a vehicle that is being sold to the public. And of course, EcoCAR vehicles are no different.  The acceleration event is an important part of determining how well these vehicles have been built, and how appealing they would be to a future consumer.

While the team is still waiting on the final results, the preliminary data seems to indicate that the North Carolina team was able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in just over 10 seconds, pretty impressive for a roomy SUV that weighs approximately 5,000 pounds.  Now that the first teams have been through the event, students from other teams gather around the scoreboard, where the acceleration times for each team have been posted. They joke with each other about how their vehicle will easily do much better than NC State’s. But their laughter is a little nervous; it’s easy to boast before your vehicle is out on the track. Time will tell, as many more teams begin to enter the acceleration event today.

NC State was one of the first teams to participate in the acceleration event.

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This morning, at the Museum of Science in Boston, representative from The General Motors Company, Department of Energy, The MathWorks and A123Systems addressed a crowd of students and journalists, officially kicking off year two of the EcoCAR competition.

Today’s presenters included Connie Bezanson from DOE, Paul Smith from The MathWorks, Rob Mosher from A123Systems and Kent Helfrich from General Motors.

Here are some photos from the event:

The Teams Gather After Press Conference

The Teams Gather After Press Conference


Kent Helfrich from General Motors

Kent Helfrich from General Motors

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Engineering is intense.  Turning a Saturn VUE into a next-generation vehicle takes skill, intelligence and commitment.  Okay, it’s also a lot of fun.  So, in the spirit of racing toward sustainability, the EcoCAR team members spent last evening racing around a track at F1 Boston.  Today, they were back in workshops poring over information on optimizing vehicles for fuel economy, performance and emissions, but, as you can see by the pictures below (thanks to Martin Velilla), last night it was all about EIL – Engineers-in-the-Loop, a figure-8 loop that is.

EcoCAR Team Members Line Up Before Start

EcoCAR Team Members Line Up Before Start

Neck and Neck Around the Track

Neck and Neck Around the Track

At around the 3-minute mark in this (very well-produced) video you’ll see some familiar faces and the EcoCAR logo.  This State of the University address by President Graham Spanier is moving and inspirational.  We’re proud (as we’re sure President Spanier is) that Penn State’s Advanced Vehicle Team is spotlighted in the story.  The video is more than 20 minutes long, but we know there are plenty of PSU alums who will watch it all the way to the end.

Congrats to the Penn State team!

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Penn State Logo

Penn State Logo

The following blog posting was originally written by Dana Bubonovich for the Penn State University Advanced Vehicle Team blog. We’re re-posting here with Dana’s permission.

On September 2, 2009, the Advanced Vehicle Team took part in the launch of the Green Careers Initiative. The event, which took place at the HUB-Robeson Student Center at the University Park campus, hosted more than 10 ‘green’ clubs and organizations on campus and had an audience of more than 500 students, faculty, and alumni.

Sponsored by the College of Engineering and the Penn State Center for Sustainability, the Green Careers Initiative is a Web site designed to connect students to green careers by allowing them to post their qualifications on the site. These could include: classes, internships, and involvement in green organizations. It also helps connecting students to Penn State alumni in green careers.
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This video is currently the “Video of the Month” on the website for the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy: Vehicle Technologies Program. The video, courtesy of MotorWeek, spotlights the folks from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory to learn what it takes to make clean power sources viable.

Click here to learn more about the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

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Over the past 30 days, we’ve seen some important news that’s relevant to the future of clean automobiles. We thought it was worth sharing two recent announcements with our readers:

Secretary Chu Announces Nearly $300 Million in Clean Cities Grants to Support Clean Fuels, Vehicles, and Infrastructure Development — Secretary Steven Chu announced the selection of 25 cost-share projects under the Clean Cities program that will be funded with nearly $300 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the press release, these projects will speed the transformation of the nation’s vehicle fleet, putting more than 9,000 alternative fuel and energy efficient vehicles on the road, and establishing 542 refueling locations across the country. The Department of Energy also estimates they will help displace approximately 38 million gallons of petroleum per year. READ RELEASE HERE

President Obama Announces $2.4 Billion in Grants to Accelerate the Manufacturing and Deployment of the Next Generation of U.S. Batteries and Electric Vehicles — President Obama announced 48 new advanced battery and electric-drive projects that will receive $2.4 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These projects, selected through a highly competitive process by the Department of Energy, will accelerate the development of U.S. manufacturing capacity for batteries and electric drive components as well as the deployment of electric drive vehicles, helping to establish American leadership in creating the next generation of advanced vehicles. READ RELEASE HERE

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Members from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology EcoCAR team recently submitted this video blog to Inside the Green Garage. Mike Maduro, Helen Qin and Samantha Hazell talk about post-graduate plans and share a funny story about how they tricked new members of the team into thinking VUE stood for a technical term.

For more information about the UOIT team, check out the team site at http://www.uoit.ca/ecocar/.

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Chevy Volt - Copyright General Motors 2009

Chevy Volt - Copyright General Motors 2009

230 miles per gallon in the city!

230 miles per gallon! Talk about a tough act to follow. The 17 EcoCAR teams certainly do have a “challenge” now; GM has raised the bar pretty high with yesterday’s Chevy Volt announcement. The Volt is an extended range electric vehicle, or EREV, and eight of the current EcoCAR teams are working on EREVs as well. The key for EcoCAR contestants is designing vehicles that can push boundaries, like GM is doing with the Chevy Volt, but we’re not focused on one technology. In addition to EREVs, teams are working on a full function electric vehicle (FFEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (FCPHEVs). No one knows which team – and which combination of technologies – will deliver the next breakthrough. You’ll just have to stay tuned to this blog to see which team (or teams) has the stuff to top the 230 mark. But, for today, let’s just congratulate our sponsor GM on an exciting step forward for automotive engineering.

To get even more “plugged in” to the Chevy Volt, we suggest you head over to www.chevroletvoltage.com.

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Click to Learn More

Click to Learn More

Today, news crossed the wire that EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality is now a major sponsor of the EcoCAR competition. They’ll provide technical advice and mentoring in the areas of greenhouse gas and tailpipe emissions. EPA will also conduct dynamometer emissions testing on the competition vehicles at their National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Join us in welcoming EPA.

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