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Since the early stages of competition, public interest in the innovative vehicles designed and built by the EcoCAR teams has surged.  At the EcoCAR “Green Ride & Drive” event yesterday, hosted at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL), the media was invited to interact with sponsors and students to see just how well the teams have taken performance and consumer appeal into account in their advanced technology vehicles.

Student engineers and Outreach Coordinators spoke to the media about the aspects of their vehicles that make them appealing to consumers, as well as the technical details of their vehicles’ architectures. Representatives from local Michigan media outlets got a close-up look at just what makes the EcoCAR vehicles special, and rode shotgun while they went out for a spin. The media presence included the Detroit News, Automotive News, AutoWeek, Detroit Auto Scene, SAE International Magazine, Xconomy Detroit and WOSU, a PBS station in Ohio. Reporter Scott Burgess from the Detroit News was on hand and captured the essence of EcoCAR in this story.

“It’s rewarding to be able to test the emissions and control systems that we have been refining throughout Year Three of the competition,” said Penn State team co-leader, Michael Zahradnik. “We also enjoyed showing off our vehicle to the high-level sponsors involved in the program and the media attendees.”

The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) team spent the sunshine-filled morning talking with visitors and taking them for rides in their EcoCAR. The team’s full-function electric vehicle is powered by high energy density lithium polymer cells, and is expected to have a 250 mile range on a single charge when it is complete.

“It’s nice to get the opportunity to bring our EcoCAR to EPA’s facilities and show the results of our hard work in the garage,” said UOIT team leader, Gavin Clark. “Several attendees were impressed with the vehicle’s acceleration and power, something that they hadn’t expected from a full electric vehicle.”

MS&T Team Leader Kevin Martin Show's Off the Team's Vehicle

During the afternoon, employees at EPA’s NVFEL had the opportunity to spend time with the teams and take a peek under the hoods of the advanced technology vehicles. In addition, there was time for special awards recognition to the many EPA employees that helped to facilitate the team testing over the last two weeks.

The EcoCAR Ride & Drive event allowed guests to share the students’ passion and enthusiasm, and generated even more buzz and excitement in anticipation of the competition finals in May, when all vehicles will be put to the final test!

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