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At approximately 11:20 AM EDT on November 30, 2010, the NC State EcoCAR team brought their diesel engine to life on not 1, not 2, but 3 cylinders! Now, the vehicle is very close to running as a true series diesel hybrid!

Up until the end of November, the team’s EcoCAR had one bad injector. NC State learned that the injector closest to the flywheel was faulty and had been letting all of the fuel go back to the return, rather than allowing the entire system to pressurize. The moment the team isolated the faulty injector from the fuel system, the EcoCAR’s diesel engine started banging on all 3 cylinders!

Congrats, NC State – definitely a major milestone! We’re looking forward to hearing more from the team throughout Year Three of the competition.

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This week’s Team Spotlight Video features the North Carolina State EcoCAR team!

Check out the video below to see and hear NC State team members talk about their extended-range electric vehicle architecture, how they measure their miles per gallon gas equivalent and the incredible auto industry exposure they get as part of the EcoCAR Challenge.

Since receiving vehicle performance results at the Year Two Finals, the NC State EcoCAR team has been hard at work testing its vehicle and making necessary adjustments to achieve the best results possible. To kick off Year Three, the team held an outreach event for local students enrolled in a Renewable Energy Technology pre-college program. The high school students were given an overview of the EcoCAR competition and and the opportunities the program makes possible. After the presentation, the NC State team then gave the group a tour of the garage to check out the EcoCAR. The students and teachers were excited to watch the vehicle operate on the gravel roads around the garage and on the garage vehicle lift to really get a feel for the Extended Range Electric Vehicle capabilities.

Pre-college students taking a look under the hood of NC State's EcoCAR

On the technical side, NC State team members are currently working on different projects to get their EcoCAR running smoothly focused on improving the feel of electric motor regenerative breaking, acceleration and creep (the ability to move without either pedal depressed).  In addition, the team is continuing its effort to run the diesel engine-generator unit before the next semester begins at NC State. The team is working to refine its EcoCAR in Year Three with plans to lighten the vehicle, improve the battery packaging for better rear seat and cargo space, and make it showroom-ready inside and out by the end of the competition.

Cool exterior!

In this week’s Mentor Monday post, we are featuring Kelly Pietras, a design system engineer at General Motors, who serves as a mentor for the EcoCAR students at North Carolina State University. Kelly has traveled to North Carolina three times within the past year to review the students’ progress and offer advice ranging from engineering tips to one-on-one career counseling.

While in Toronto for the Year One EcoCAR Finals, Kelly Pietras and NC State students conceptualized, modeled, and tested hybrid powertrains in the virtual world

“EcoCAR is a great opportunity for both GM and the students,” said Kelly. “Not only do the students get to build a physical car, but they also get to experience teamwork in a situation that models a real-life work environment. And for me, it’s always exciting to hear the students’ fresh, new ideas.”

As a new team to competitions, the North Carolina State students concentrated on planning the design and layout of their EREV vehicle, so that when it was finally time to install the system hardware, they didn’t waste any time. Kelly was especially proud that the students were able to get their car running in electric mode, and their efforts were recognized with the Most Improved Team award at the Year Two competition in Yuma and San Diego. Currently, the students are working on equipping their vehicle with a fully-integrated powertrain system, while optimizing driver-friendly design and feasibility.

At GM, Kelly has been working to improve the powertrain experience for customers for 10 years. As an ongoing project, Kelly engineers six-speed front wheel and six-speed rear wheel automatic transmissions, which can be found in cars like the Cadillac CTS and SRX and other full-size vehicles.

“GM is an exciting place to work,” said Kelly. “There’s always something new going on, from technological developments to advancements on existing designs.”

To sum up her involvement with EcoCAR, Kelly says, “I grew up in Detroit, so the auto industry has always been a part of my life. I’ve been inspired by cars from a very young age, and it’s amazing to see that same enthusiasm in such talented young adults.”

Check out the video confessional below to hear about the frustrations the North Carolina State team has been dealing with over the past couple days of the competition.

After one year of intensive design work on computers and preparing lengthy technical reports (5 overall design reports and 1 battery design report), the North Carolina State EcoCAR team received its long-awaited Saturn VUE. To capture the excitement of the vehicle’s arrival at the NC State campus on September 18th, the team recorded the event in pictures and video. Enjoy!

Tractor Trailer Arrives on September 18

Tractor Trailer Arrives on September 18

Saturn VUE Leaving the Trailer

Saturn Before Unloading

NC State's Saturn VUE Hits the Road

NC State's Saturn VUE Hits the Road

NC State EcoCAR Team Poses With VUE

NC State EcoCAR Team Poses With VUE

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