Hokies win EcoCAR competition with an extended-range EV

Students from Virginia Tech University this week garnered first place in the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge with the team's extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) using E85 (ethanol).

Earlier this year, the Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) drove the award-winning EcoCAR more than 4 hours--from Blacksburg to Washington D.C.'s National Mall--to join in the EPA's Earth Day events. HEVT

A Virginia Tech University engineering team on Thursday won first place in the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge with an 82-mile-per-gallon, extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) using E85 (ethanol).

The results of the three-year EcoCAR competition were announced on L'Enfant Plaza, in Washington, D.C. United States Secretary of Energy Steven Chu congratulated the team at an award ceremony. A total of 16 teams participated in the competition that was co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors (GM).

A student team from Ohio State University took second place with an E85 EREV. Third place went to a team from University of Waterloo with a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The team was the first in the history of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions to run a fuel cell vehicle in all the dynamic events during finals.

The winning vehicle, based on a GM production model, can run about 50 miles on its battery and another 155 on gasoline. The vehicle was re-engineered to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions while maintaining its utility, safety and performance, the team said in a press release.

"Designing an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 was challenging, but clearly worth it in the end," said Patrick Walsh, co-team leader for Virginia Tech. "The entire team has put so much time and effort into designing and refining our vehicle, and we've gained valuable knowledge and hands-on experience that will prepare us for our engineering careers."

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