For the next five days, 100 college engineering students from universities across North America will be making last-minute preparations on their eco cars before the vehicles are judged.
This is the end of the second year of the EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, hosted at the General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz. EcoCAR is a three-year competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and GM that challenges each team to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle using a range of alternative technologies and integrating them together to make their own unique architecture.
"The students spent two years designing and building these innovative vehicles and it's thrilling to see them come to life here at our desert proving ground," said John Haraf, director of hybrid vehicle integration and controls for General Motors. "We couldn't imagine a more appropriate place to conclude year two of the EcoCAR competition; these young engineers must pass the toughest inspections and undergo the same tests we perform on our own prototypes. This challenging process gives them invaluable experience and preparation for careers in the industry."
The EcoCAR vehicles fall into one of four categories: extended-range electric vehicle, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, and full-function electric vehicle. Though each one is different, they must all minimize fuel consumption, petroleum use, and emissions, and meet commercial standards for utility, safety, and performance.
Following this week's testing and judging in Yuma, the teams will move to San Diego, where the year two competition winners will be announced Thursday, May 27, at the San Diego House of Blues.