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Launches EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman today announced that Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. is the first place winner of Challenge X, in which 17 university teams from across the U.S. and Canada competed to reengineer a General Motors (GM) Chevrolet Equinox Crossover SUV with advanced powertrain configurations. The winner of the competition achieved high fuel economy and low emissions, all while maintaining driver comfort and vehicle performance.  Department of Energy (DOE), GM and Natural Resources Canada also kicked off EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, a competition set to begin in the fall of 2008 that will challenge 17 university teams to re-engineer a Saturn VUE.

"I want to congratulate this year's Challenge X champion Mississippi State University and all of the other participants for their innovative designs and applications of advanced clean vehicle technologies," Secretary Bodman said.  "This competition is a unique demonstration of how tremendous technological advancements that are occurring at universities across North America can help us achieve a new energy future -- one that is cleaner, more sustainable, more affordable, more secure and less reliant on carbon-based fossil fuels."

Over the past four years, 17 Challenge X university teams followed a real-world vehicle development process to produce advanced vehicle powertrain technologies that increased energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Those technologies were then integrated into GM vehicles and powered by a variety of alternative fuels including B20 biodiesel, E85 ethanol, reformulated gasoline, and hydrogen.  GM, DOE, and the Canadian government congratulated students from 17 participating universities at a finish line ceremony this morning in Washington, D.C.

Students competed in 12 events over the eight day final competition, ranging from on-road emissions and drivability assessments to vehicle performance and consumer acceptability evaluations.  The Mississippi State team designed a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric vehicle with all-wheel drive using a turbocharged direct-injection diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel. The vehicle demonstrated a 38 percent increase in energy efficiency over the production vehicle, a 1.6 second better quarter-mile acceleration performance, and a 44 percent reduction in well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions.

The second place vehicle, engineered by students at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, is a through-the-road parallel hybrid electric vehicle with a 1.9L diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel. Ohio State University was awarded third place for its power-split hybrid electric vehicle with a diesel engine fueled by B20 biodiesel.

In 2004, the first year of the program, the Challenge focused on vehicle simulation, modeling and subsystem development, and testing. In the second and third years, students integrated their advanced powertrains and subsystems into the Chevrolet Equinox. In the fourth year, students focused on consumer acceptability and over-the-road reliability and durability of their advanced propulsion systems with real-world evaluation outside of an official testing environment.

DOE's Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne) provided competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support.  The Greenhouse gas, Regulated Emissions, and Energy in Transportation model, developed at Argonne, was used to assess a well-to-wheel analysis of the greenhouse gas impacts of each technology approach the teams selected.

The 17 teams that participated in Challenge X are:  Michigan Technological University-Houghton, Mich.; Mississippi State University-Starkville, Miss.; The Ohio State University- Columbus, Ohio; Pennsylvania State University-University Park, Pa.; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology-Terre Haute, Ind.; San Diego State University-San Diego, Calif.; Texas Tech University-Lubbock, Texas; University of Akron-Akron, Ohio; University of California, Davis - Davis, Calif.; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Mich.; University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Tenn.; University of Texas at Austin-Austin, Texas; University of Tulsa-Tulsa, Okla.; University of Waterloo-Waterloo, Ontario Canada; University of Wisconsin-Madison - Madison, Wis.; Virginia Tech-Blacksburg, Va.; and West Virginia University- Morgantown, W.Va.

Students participating in the fall EcoCAR competition will design and build advanced propulsion solutions similar to the vehicle categories utilized by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) regulations. In addition, they will incorporate lightweight materials into the vehicles, improve aerodynamics and utilize clean alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel and hydrogen. Funding for EcoCar in FY 2009 and beyond is subject to annual appropriations.

The following teams have been selected to compete in the EcoCAR competition: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach, Fla.; Georgia Tech -Atlanta, Ga.; Howard University -Washington, D.C.; Michigan Technological University - Houghton, Mich.; Mississippi State University - Starkville, Miss.; Missouri University of Science and Technology - Rolla, Miss.; North Carolina State University - Raleigh, N.C.; Ohio State University - Columbus, Ohio; Ontario Institute of Technology - Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; Pennsylvania State University - University Park, Pa.; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology - Terre Haute, Ind.; Texas Tech University - Lubbock, Texas; University of Victoria  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; University of Waterloo - Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; University of Wisconsin, Madison -Madison, Wis.; Virginia Tech -Blacksburg, Va.; and, West Virginia University -Morgantown, W. Va..

Read information about Challenge X and EcoCAR.

Learn more about DOE's advanced clean vehicle technologies.

Challenge X 2008 Vehicles Fact Sheet

Media contact(s):

Jennifer Scoggins 202-586-4940