The Ohio State University is no stranger to national championships, but today’s EcoCAR Challenge victory was a first. Actually an international competition (including teams and sponsors from Canada), the EcoCAR Challenge didn’t showcase touchdown runs or fast breaks, but it did feature world-class talent. In fact, with all due respect to all OSU’s student athletes, the prowess this team demonstrated over the past year designing their Extended Range Electric Vehicle (EREV) may someday change the world.
Although the EcoCAR Challenge can only crown one winner for the first year, congratulations are also due to second-place winner University of Victoria and third-place winner Mississippi State University.
The Ohio State University, University of Victoria and Mississippi State beat out 14 other universities located in the U.S. and Canada. As readers of this blog know, all 17 teams have spent the past year – inside their green garages – designing and simulating a next-generation vehicle based on the 2009 Saturn VUE. Their goal is to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal.
The Ohio State’s winning design is powered by a 1.8 liter engine and fueled by E85 ethanol. They’re predicting a 300% increase in fuel economy over a production 4 cylinder vehicle. Now we get to see how this translates to the real world when the team gets their hands on an actual Saturn Vue. They received their keys today.
The Ohio State team wasn’t the only challenger to select the EREV powertrain. The University of Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Embry-Riddle, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Penn State and the University of Victoria also designed EREVs, which like GM’s Chevy Volt, feature a full-performance electric powertrain for all-electric driving and an optimized combustion engine – with on-board fuel storage – that extends the range of the vehicle.
Other powertrain options for the EcoCAR Challenge included full function electric vehicle (FFEV), fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (FC-PHEV) and the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). All the teams used lithium ion battery technology, renewable fuels (such as biodiesel or ethanol) included a plug-in capability.
Congratulations are due to all 17 teams (see today’s press release). The past week in Toronto has been stressful, but as you’ve seen by the videos on this blog, it hasn’t been all hard work. Behind the scenes, we’ve seen engineers dance, box and ham for the camera – all evidence that engineers have a zany side too. Stay tuned to the blog for more scenes from Toronto finals week and for upcoming news about the next phase of the EcoCAR Challenge.