The Green Garages are empty. Sixteen vehicles sit in the Arizona desert. And more than 100 college engineering students wait to show a panel of judges that their vehicle should win top honors. As the end of Year Two approaches in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge, today inspections, testing and judging got underway at the General Motors (GM) Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz.
For the next six days, the 16 EcoCAR teams from universities across North America will test their vehicle’s strength in a series of pit tests that range from braking to drive quality to lane changing. From sunrise to sundown, the teams will cycle their vehicles through multiple testing sessions, refining and working on their cars in the pits between judging.
“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.”
EcoCAR is a three-year competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors 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 EcoCAR vehicles fall into one of the following four categories: extended-range electric vehicle (EREV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and full function electric vehicle. While each one is different, they must all minimize fuel consumption, petroleum use and emissions, and meet commercial standards for utility, safety and performance.
All tests will be conducted at GM’s 2,400-acre Desert Proving Ground which includes 40 miles of roads located on the US Army military proving ground and artillery range. The facility’s low humidity and rainfall conditions make it an ideal location for automotive testing. This week will be the first opportunity for members of national and regional media to visit and tour the Desert Proving Ground which opened in July 2009.
Following this week’s testing and judging in Yuma, the teams will move to San Diego, CA where the Year Two competition winners will be announced on Thursday, May 27 at the San Diego House of Blues.
To keep up with teams in Yuma and San Diego, please check the Inside the Green Garage blog daily for updates, photos and video from Finals. Be sure to look out for our testing time lapse from the Desert Proving Ground too! Additional information about the EcoCAR program can be found on at www.ecocarchallenge.org.
EcoCAR is a three-year competition that builds on the 20-year history of U.S. Department of Energy advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate leading-edge automotive technologies. General Motors provides production vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The U.S. Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory provides competition management, team evaluation, technical and logistical support. Through this important partnership, EcoCAR aims to inspire and support the next generation of scientists and engineers to unite around the common goal of sustainable mobility.