They may not look like it, but pair of electrified pickup trucks showcased in San Francisco today have much more in common with the Chevrolet Volt than you may think.
Students from Mississippi State University placed first in the 2010 EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge finals in San Diego Friday after designing and building a biodiesel extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).
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).
What makes the Proton interesting is that it will be a plug-in series hybrid powered (a la the Chevy Volt) with a drivetrain developed completely by Lotus Engineering.
GM is expected to add the two cities to its list for the inaugural run of electric plug-in vehicles that will hit the road in November.
The trade-off for a 240-volt, fast-charging station is participation in a government-run usage study.
On May 20, I visited GM's Desert Proving grounds in Yuma, Arizona as the teams prepared to test their vehicles in the second stage of the competition. Seeing these modified SUVs in various stages of undress and watching students racing to troubleshoot and reassemble their vehicles like young NASCAR pit teams, I quickly realized that my college experience was a waste of time.
The Chevrolet Volt arrives later this year to challenge the Toyota Prius for green car superiority. However, GM doesn't like to call the Volt a hybrid, choosing to classify it as an extended range electric vehicle (EREV).