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EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge


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EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge is a three-year collegiate advanced vehicle technology engineering competition established by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors (GM), and is being managed by Argonne National Laboratory.

The competition challenges 16 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of vehicles by minimizing the vehicle’s fuel consumption and reducing its emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance, safety and consumer appeal. Students use a real-world engineering process to design and integrate their advanced technology solutions into a 2009 GM vehicle.

Students are designing and building advanced propulsion solutions that are based on vehicle categories from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) regulations. They explore a variety of cutting-edge clean vehicle solutions, including full-function electric, range-extended electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell technologies. In addition, students will incorporate lightweight materials into the vehicles, improve aerodynamics and utilize alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen.

Teams are following a real-world approach modeled after GM’s global vehicle development process (GVDP), giving students valuable experience in real-world engineering practices, resource allocation and meeting deliverables. While previous student engineering competitions focused primarily on hardware modifications, EcoCAR includes a unique focus on modeling and simulation, as well as subsystem development and testing.

During the three-year program, General Motors will provide production vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The U.S. Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, will provide competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support. Through sponsoring such advanced vehicle engineering competitions, GM and the U.S. Department of Energy are helping to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers.


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