For the past 26 years, the US Department of Energy (DOE), in partnership with the North American auto industry, has sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) to provide the next generation of automotive engineers with a practical learning experience. The previous EcoCAR Challenge saw students convert and massage GM Malibus into super-efficient models, and this time for EcoCAR 3, teams are tasked with updating the iconic Chevrolet Camaro muscle car into a hybrid-electric vehicle.
The normally performance focused Camaro presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the 16 teams from Canadian and US universities that are participating. Instead of simply removing various performance parts from the stock Camaro and turning it into a Prius, engineering teams must retain the car’s inherent muscle-car traits, including its body, while simultaneously reducing its environmental impact through a modified hybrid-electric platform.
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The mandate of the Camaro-based challenge is comprised of five specific components. Teams must not only reduce overall energy use, but also reduce tailpipe emissions and well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining consumer interest in the vehicle from a performance, safety and daily driver perspective. Teams must also meet set energy and environmental goals while being mindful of costs and other influencing factors.
In order to make the competition as close to a real world automotive development environment as possible, teams are advised to populate their teams with members from a diverse array of disciplines. Teams will need the requisite mechanical, electrical and software engineering students to incorporate the various hybrid components, but are also advised to bring along students versed in the arts of marketing, communications and project management.
For its part, General Motors will not only be providing the Camaros, but also seed money and vehicle components, as well as technical and operational support where needed. The DOE will provide team evaluation, logistical support and competition management. Both the DOE and GM will monitor and judge the competition, which will run over a four year period, winding up in 2018.
The goals of the EcoCAR 3 competition are detailed in the following video.