CSU EcoCAR 2 Heads to the Slopes

Colorado State University was ecstatic to receive its 2013 Chevrolet Malibu during the summer before Year Two of competition.  Many of the team members were chomping at the bit to start the disassembly process so that they could begin the even more exciting reassembly of CSU’s Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (FCPHEV).  Before team members were allowed to start unbolting bits though, baseline testing had to be performed on the factory-fresh vehicle.

A few unique aspects play into the CSU Vehicle Innovation Team’s (VIT) design.  One goal of the CSU VIT is to build a vehicle capable of taking students to and from the local ski resorts for a day of powder.  For the average conventional gasoline vehicle this is no easy task.   The route from CSU in Fort Collins to Vail Ski Resort includes approximately 200 miles of driving, nearly all of which is uphill, or more accurately, “up-mountain.”  Winding mountain roads and few rest areas mean that a well-performing vehicle is a must. To provide additional information to the system design and build phase, the team decided to test the vehicle driving the steep route.

The stock 2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco performed exceptionally well on the mountain trip, achieving high fuel economy, a comfortable ride and even the ability to briskly pass slower moving traffic on the largest inclines.  Data was logged from the long trip using donated hardware and software from Kvaser so that it can be analyzed and compared to the CSU FCPHEV when it is built this spring.  Improvements over the base vehicle are expected to include no loss of performance at altitude, higher efficiency and quieter operation.

The CSU VIT is excited to demonstrate how a hybrid vehicle, especially a hydrogen-powered one, can compete with any other vehicle in meeting the demands of a high altitude snow sports adventurer.  Taking school-sanctioned trips to ski resorts doesn’t hurt either.