Thousands of car enthusiasts braved the blustery winter wind earlier this year to visit the Pittsburgh International Auto Show, an event that truly had something for everyone. Some hunted for the KidsZone to get their children intricate balloon animals and some searched for the best French fries, but others made their way to the Green Street area to learn more about ‘greener’ automotive options.

At the end of the long, green carpet in the midst of the latest hybrids, electric and alternative fuel vehicles, stood the Penn State EcoCAR team’s Green Street exhibit. Several engineers and outreach members spent the weekend explaining new technologies, answering questions and describing the EcoCAR competition.

Penn State team members were surprised by how much support they received, even in University of Pittsburgh territory! Many people who visited the exhibit were blown away that college students were capable of designing and implementing such complicated advanced vehicle technologies.

The Penn State team with their vehicle in Yuma, AZ

It was a rewarding experience for students to talk with visitors about Penn State’s vehicle architecture and its similarity with the Chevrolet Volt. With all the recent hype about the Volt, many people were already familiar with the type of extended-range electric vehicle that Penn State has. Countless individuals praised the car’s electric motor with a small backup biodiesel engine, and many predicted that the entire automotive industry will move in this direction soon.

Whether vehicles like Penn State’s EcoCAR will dominate the industry or not, it was encouraging to see the number of people interested in more environmentally friendly transportation. Throughout the weekend, people told the team their stories and explained why they’re making the decision to drive ‘green.’ If the Pittsburgh Auto Show is any indication, American drivers are ready for the vehicles in the EcoCAR competition to move from Green Street to every street!

The EcoCAR Year Three Finals award ceremony will be held at the Library of Congress on Thursday, June 16, 2011! This event will feature an evening reception, dinner, and an awards ceremony for students, organizers, and sponsors. Students will also have the chance to take a tour of the Library Gallery. Make sure to dress your best because this event is semi-formal!

Library of Congress (Courtesy http://www.loc.gov)

The Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library currently holds more than 147 million items, including more than 33 million books and other print materials, 3 million recordings, 12.5 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6 million pieces of sheet music and 64.5 million manuscripts. Its mission is to further the progress of knowledge and education, much like EcoCAR’s mission to apply the knowledge students are learning to real-world energy and transportation challenges!

We hope you are as excited as we are to have our finale awards ceremony in one of the most beautiful places in Washington, D.C.!

If you weren’t able to attend SAE’s 2011 World Congress this week, EcoCAR 2 made quite a splash. Yesterday we announced that the GM-donated vehicle for EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future will be a Chevrolet Malibu, and today DOE named the sixteen teams selected to participate in the competition.

Check out the video recap below to see what happened!

EcoCAR made its second big announcement of the SAE 2011 World Congress today, when DOE’s David Sandalow named the sixteen teams selected to participate in EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future. The North American colleges and universities competing in EcoCAR 2 will be:

    • California State University, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
    • Colorado State University  (Fort Collins, CO)
    • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, FL)
    • Mississippi State University (Starkville, MS)
    • North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC)
    • The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
    • Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA)
    • Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
    • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Terre Haute, IN)
    • University of Ontario Institute of Technology (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada)
    • University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, TN)
    • University of Victoria (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada)
    • University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
    • University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
    • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA)
    • Wayne State University (Detroit, MI)

      Please join us in congratulating these schools on being selected. Engineers on all sixteen teams will spend the next three years developing innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of a GM-donated Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer appeal. To learn more about North America’s Premier Collegiate Automotive Engineering Competition, go to www.ecocar2.org.

      We can’t wait to see what the teams come up with!

      …the Chevrolet Malibu!

      Today, Karl Stracke, CEO of Opel/Vauxhall at General Motors and the general chairman of SAE 2011 World Congress, announced the vehicle choice during the conference keynote address. The 16 EcoCAR 2 teams will utilize the Chevrolet Malibu as the integration platform for their advanced vehicle design throughout the EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future competition. For the next three years, student engineers at select schools will use hybrid electric powertrains, adaptive control systems and advanced battery technologies to reduce the vehicles’ environmental impact without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

      The vehicle EcoCAR 2 teams will get to reengineer: a Chevy Malibu

      Tomorrow, David Sandalow, Assistant Secretary for Policy & International Affairs at DOE, will be announce the elite teams selected to participate in the EcoCAR 2 program, so be sure to check back for the full list of schools!

      Throughout the last year, EcoCAR teams have been working to produce the most fuel-efficient and consumer-friendly vehicle to compete in more than a dozen dynamic events at this year’s finals.

      In less than 10 weeks, EcoCAR teams from across North America will attend the 2011 EcoCAR Competition Finals from June 6-16 in Milford, Michigan and Washington, D.C. Teams will have a chance to take home top honors in more than 40 awards and $100,000 in cash prize money.

      The Year Three finale and awards ceremony will be held at one of the most historic landmarks in the United States. Can you guess where? Here are a few hints:

      • Was founded in 1800
      • Had more than 1.7 million visitors in 2010
      • Holds more than 147 million items and captures more than 460 languages
      • Contains more than 838 miles of bookshelves

      President Obama recently announced the creation of the National Clean Fleets Partnership, a public-private initiative dedicated to helping large companies use greener vehicles. Five private sector leaders, AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, UPS, and Verizon, will team up with the Department of Energy to convert a significant portion of their service fleets to electric or alternative fuel-vehicles.

      These charter members own five of the top ten largest fleets in the country, operating more than 250,000 vehicles between them. Making their service vehicles cleaner will have a massive impact on America’s fuel consumption and environmental footprint, as well as saving the companies money in the long run.

      EcoCAR congratulates the Obama administration and the five charter members on this initiative, and we hope the technologies EcoCAR teams are developing today will be in some of the Clean Fleet vehicles of the future!

      Take a look at this video to learn more about the National Clean Fleets Partnership:

      In Year Two, it took the HEVT team several days to get their VTREX vehicle through all aspects of the safety tech inspection. This year, however, the team used its experience to make the process as painless as possible. Prior to shipping the vehicle off to the Spring Workshop, HEVT ran multiple mock inspections that went through every requirement on the official inspection list. All this hard work paid off since the VTREX was the first of all sixteen teams to pass Safety Tech inspection at EPA, which allowed the car to get straight to emissions testing.

      Every EcoCAR vehicle was required to pass all parts of the safety tech inspection before it could be driven in any road tests or approved for dynamometer testing. Key points of the EPA inspection include checking to make sure critical fasteners are torqued to the proper specifications, checking to ensure that wires and coolant hoses are properly secured and safe from potential damage or movement and checking the high voltage systems to ensure everything is correctly labeled and properly installed.

      Check out the video below to see HEVT team member, Jesse Alley, walk through the key points of the safety tech inspection:

      In order to make the wheels spin on UWAFT’s hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the EcoCAR students at the University of Waterloo have successfully integrated two electric motors into the vehicle’s drivetrain – one at the front wheels and one at the rear wheels.  To effectively use the electricity of the team’s GM-donated fuel cell and A123Systems-donated battery, UWAFT needed frequent successful bench tests of its Siemens AC induction electric rear motor.

      Since this motor was not originally intended to be incorporated into the stock GM sub-frame, UWAFT has designed a unique rear mounting system that retained the original suspension mounting points, while also housing the sizable motor.  Knowing that the electric motor would need to be detached from the vehicle on a regular basis for testing, UWAFT specially designed the rear sub frame to ensure that disassembly was as efficient as possible. The design was a success, effectively accommodating the electric motor while making it possible for two people to disassemble in 15 minutes. This small mechanical modification has led to an increase in productivity and overall efficiency when working on the motor.

      Watch the video below to see a bench test of UWAFT’s rear electric motor in action!

      As part of Indiana University’s Sustainability “Themester,” the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology EcoCAR team brought their vehicle to Bloomington and put it on display. IU’s Themester is an initiative to engage the collective knowledge and creativity of the faculty and involve undergraduate students in the exploration of ideas that span all disciplines but relate back to one theme. The Fall 2010 theme at IU was Sustainability: Thriving on a Small Planet, so the EcoCAR competition was a fantastic tie-in.

      IU was so impressed with RHIT’s EcoCAR that they featured the vehicle in the Themester’s closing ceremonies! Watch the video below to learn more:

      Green Garage Site

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