This year's annual EcoCar 2 competition winner is Ohio State University. This year's theme was Plugging in to the Future.
The winning entry was a re-engineered 2013 Chevrolet Malibu with energy storage, electric drive and ethanol (E85) fueled engine technology.
University of Washington and Penn State University Teams Finish second and third. All participating university teams worked the same vehicle model, contributed to the program by General Motors.
EcoCar is a three-year competition managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, GM and 30 other government and industry leaders. It is designed to give students real-world automotive engineering experience while striving to improve the environmental impact and energy efficiency of an already efficient vehicle – the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.
Over the course of three years, the Ohio State University team consistently met incremental goals that strengthened their position against the other university teams.
Their series-parallel plug-in hybrid Malibu was track tested at GM's Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, through a series of strenuous technical and safety tests similar to those used for real-world production vehicles.
The team's unique design achieved 50 miles per gallon gas equivalent (MPGGE), while using 315 Watt-hours per mile (Wh/mi) of electricity, and even lessened the amount of criteria emissions by half, compared to the base vehicle.
"Ohio State met and exceeded the EcoCAR 2 goals at every point in the competition," said Dr. Michael Knotek - Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Energy, U.S. Department of Energy. "Their innovative work has contributed significantly to the future of energy efficient technology in the automotive industry, and we wish all members of the team the best as they move forward in the next step of their careers, whether in the classroom or in the professional world."
The second-place team from the University of Washington demonstrated the most energy-efficient vehicle, a B20 biodiesel parallel plug-in hybrid reaching 60 MPGGE and 333 Wh/mi of electricity, as well as the lowest well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions.
The Pennsylvania State University team placed third with their E85 series plug-in hybrid.
"For the past three years all 15 EcoCAR 2 teams have worked tirelessly to design the next generation of clean vehicles and we have seen exceptional outcomes," said Ken Morris, vice president, global product integrity, General Motors. "Ohio State stood out amongst the competition and truly did an outstanding job. All of the teams have helped advance innovative vehicle technology and improve the automotive industry and we thank them for their hard work, dedication and enthusiasm for this program."
This year's EcoCar competition builds on the successful 25-year history of Department of Energy advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate leading-edge, eco-friendly automotive technologies.
General Motors provides each of the 15 competing teams with a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, as well as vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The U.S. Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation and logistical support. Through this important public/private partnership, EcoCAR 2 provides invaluable experience and training to promising young minds entering the North American job market.
Read more green car articles by Green Car Examiner Evelyn Kanter on ecoXplorer, and always drive safely.