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The UVic EcoCAR team has been very busy the last two weeks preparing for the A123Systems battery inspection and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) technical inspection. The team is happy to report that the long, grueling nights, that put their skills and sanity to the test, paid off as they passed the A123Systems inspection and their vehicle qualified to ship to competition.

Preparing for the A123Systems inspection proved to be taxing and some lessons were learned the hard way. The parts came together for the team’s custom cooling system, but they quickly learned how important it is to pressure test the system with air before filling it with coolant. Team leader, and now team plumber, Jeremy Wise, spent several hours finding and fixing leaks. The end result was a system that held 30psi overnight without any pressure drop. Jeff Waldner, who will be taking over the team leader role later this year, found that Computer-aided Design (CAD) should never be fully trusted, as he was left remaking mounting brackets for vital battery components with only hours to spare.

For the ANL inspection that took place three days later, the team assembled and installed the new rear cradle for the first time. Surprisingly, everything fit. Although the team didn’t get the chance to hook it up to the A123Systems battery, overall they were happy with the way things turned out.

ANL's Mike Wahlstrom under the hood of UVic's EcoCAR

With only one month remaining before vehicle shipment, several key steps remain: integration of the A123Systems battery with the 2-Mode transmission, software control of the 2-Mode transmission, and building a CAN gateway for the LE9 engine control module. One thing is for certain, many more sleepless nights to come in preparation for Yuma!

The Virginia Tech EcoCAR team recently completed the first step in a multiphase integration process to create its hybrid vehicle design.  The HEVT team successfully installed its 2.4 L FlexFuel (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) engine.  The team also installed a transmission into the vehicle that will allow for a quick launch after the engine has been off. 

“HEVT is off to a good start, but the team has several big projects to tackle in the next six months before heading to competition,” said Patrick Walsh, a graduate research assistant from Richmond, VA.

In the next few weeks, the team will be building its battery pack with modules and controllers donated by A123Systems, installing its rear electric motor with a custom subframe built by TriFab, and installing its Hybrid Vehicle Supervisory Controller provided by National Instruments.  Check back to the blog for a video of Virginia Tech’s completed vehicle, but for now here’s a teaser off what it takes to do a engine swap!

Chevy Volt on display at 2010 Detroit Auto Show

Last week at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, General Motors’ Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz, announced that GM would make a 100% battery-electric version of the Chevy Volt by removing the gas engine and expanding the battery pack.

It is uncertain when it will happen, but exciting news nonetheless! It will be interesting to find out the vehicle’s electric range and estimated price.

What are your thoughts on GM’s idea of making a full-function electric vehicle?

Another big story that ties back to the EcoCAR program is Fisker Automotive choosing EcoCAR competition sponsor, A123Systems, as the battery supplier to power Fisker’s upcoming plug-in hybrid luxury vehicle, the Fisker Karma!

A123Systems was up against some hefty competition including, Advanced Lithium Power and Ener1 subsidiary EnerDel, so this was a big win for the company.

Production of the Karma is scheduled to begin this year, so keep your eye out for the cool car below!

The Fisker Karma

After an extensive design process, the OSU EcoCAR team is ready to make its Extended Range Electric Vehicle a reality with battery modules donated by A123Systems. Here are a few benefits of the new battery:

  • The team’s GM-donated vehicle will have enough power to drive all electric for 40 miles, up to full speed and full performance
  • It will be installed to have very little intrusion to the passenger compartment and trunk cargo bay
  • It will be liquid cooled using a vacuum brazed heat exchanger designed by the EcoCAR team

The OSU team is excited to begin construction and assembly of the battery packs, and more importantly, begin HIL communication testing and fault detection/prevention.

A big thank you to A123Systems for its support and prompt delivery of such a crucial part of the OSU team’s vehicle design!

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This video describes A123Systems’ technology and its participation as a sponsor in the EcoCAR Challenge.


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The WVU EcoCAR Team at F1 Boston

The WVU EcoCAR Team at F1 Boston

F1 Champ Andrew Wiedrich

F1 Champ Andrew Wiedrich

The West Virginia University EcoCAR Team kicked off the Year 2 Competition by chalking up their first victory as the F1 Race Champs! Andrew Wiedrich led his team to victory by placing first out of nine schools in the Track Two Challenge at the Formula One in Boston.

“I was extremely excited that I won. Starting in eighth place out of nine schools I had my work cut out for me, but somehow I was able to sneak through to the front of the race,” said Wiedrich.

He added, “After the race I was so pumped up on adrenaline that I was shaking!”
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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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A123Systems LogoHow do EcoCAR teams learn the ABC’s and 1-2-3’s of advanced battery systems? Energy storage experts from A123Systems Energy Solutions Group will host a training session for EcoCAR teams at their facilities in Hopkington, Massachusetts during the upcoming EcoCAR Fall Workshop in September.

A123Systems is a Platinum Sponsor of the EcoCAR Challenge, providing advance lithium battery modules to 14 of the 17 universities. In the first academic year of EcoCAR these 14 EcoCAR teams were challenged to design their own custom battery pack using the A123Systems modules and battery management system. In Year 2, kicking off this September, teams will receive the A123Systems battery modules they will use to build and integrate their battery pack into their competition vehicle. In preparation for this monumental task, A123Systems is hosting a session during the Fall workshop to give EcoCAR teams a first-hand look at the battery system’s components and an opportunity to tour the battery manufacturing facilities.
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