This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 19, 2007

DOE and GM Launch EcoCAR Competition to Follow Challenge X

DOE and General Motors Corporation (GM) are sponsoring a new collegiate competition in which university teams will re-engineer a production GM vehicle to meet the requirements for earning Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) credits from the California Air Resources Board. The competition, called "EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge," will require teams to explore advanced propulsion technologies such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, all-electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles. The teams could also explore alternative fuels, lightweight materials, and improved aerodynamics. And it truly is the next challenge, as DOE and GM are currently sponsoring Challenge X, a three-year university competition to re-engineer a Chevrolet Equinox to minimize its fuel consumption and emissions. With that competition concluding in May 2008, the EcoCAR competition will take its place in fall 2008.

The new engineering competition will begin with university teams developing their vehicle designs using the same simulation process currently used to develop all of GM's vehicles. The teams will design sophisticated hardware and software systems to meet their goals, leading to actually rebuilding the production vehicles in the second and third years of the competition. At the end of both the second and third years of the competition, the student vehicle prototypes will compete in a week-long series of engineering tests, similar to the tests conducted by GM to determine if a prototype is ready for production. The third year allows the teams to learn from their second-year results and to continue to refine, test, and improve their vehicle's operation. DOE's Argonne National Laboratory will manage the competition.

DOE and GM issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the competition on December 3rd, but to receive the RFP, schools must first complete an online form, as described in the "Notice of Program Interest" document that was issued in late November. DOE and GM expect to select 16 teams for the competition, which is open to all accredited engineering schools in North America. Each team will receive a GM production vehicle, $10,000 in seed money, a wide range of advanced powertrain components, and technical and mentoring support from the competition sponsors. Responses to the RFP are due by March 3rd, and the teams will be selected in April. See the GM press release (PDF 42.2 KB), the EcoCAR announcement (PDF 94 KB), and the Notice of Program Interest for the EcoCAR Challenge (PDF 94 KB). Download Adobe Reader.