Washington, D.C. - On Thursday evening a team of students from Virginia Tech University learned they received top honors when they were named the overall winners of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge after designing and building an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) using E85 (ethanol). Virginia Tech competed against 15 other universities to take home the top prize of the three-year competition sponsored by the Department of Energy and General Motors. This unique competition helps train students and engineers to become the next generation of workers the U.S. needs to lead the global auto industry.
"The ingenuity and dedication shown by the students of Virginia Tech in building this next-generation vehicle will help them launch careers as leaders in the clean energy field," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "With the experience and skills these innovative students have gained through the EcoCAR competition, they will help reduce our nation's reliance on oil imports and keep U.S. industries competitive in the global marketplace."
The EcoCAR competition challenged participating engineering students to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety and performance. Throughout the competition, the Virginia Tech team hit incremental goals that helped the vehicle achieve the equivalent of nearly 82 miles per gallon - a 70 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over the stock vehicle.
Taking second place, also with an E85 EREV, was Ohio State University. The University of Waterloo took third place with a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.
EcoCAR is a three-year competition that builds on the 23-year history of DOE advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate cutting-edge automotive technologies. This program is emblematic of the Administration's work to invest in the next generation of U.S. workers and spur innovation in growing global industries, like advanced vehicles. EcoCAR and its earlier predecessor competitions have helped educate and train hundreds of advanced automotive engineers. These students are in high demand among American automakers, because they bring the talent, hands-on experience, and practical knowledge required to develop affordable, energy-efficient cars for consumers.
For more information about EcoCAR, please visit EcoCarChallenge.org.