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Engineering students must build a fuel-efficient car ou... Engineering students must build a fuel-efficient car out of a stock Chevrolet Camaro in a new government-sponsored competition. (Photo courtesy Department Of Energy).
The Chevrolet Camaro gulps down gas. Can a bunch of students turn this iconic sports car into a model of fuel efficiency?

That's the task students at 16 colleges across North America will face as they prepare for the start of a four-year competition run by the Department of Energy that challenges them to reduce the environmental impact of a car by reducing its fuel consumption and emissions.

In previous competitions, one of which is still wrapping up, the teams have competed with ordinary sedans like the Chevy Malibu. But the Camaro, which nets about 17 miles per gallon and 28 on the highway in its tock model, may be a far tougher challenge.

Officials announced the start of the EcoCar3 competition Thursday in Washington, D.C. They are still deciding exactly which model of the sports car will be used in the competition, but engineering students must figure out a way to turn it into a hybrid-electric car that cuts down on gas without hurting the performance that customers expect.

Such engineering challenges can help shape the next generation of automotive engineers. James Kolhoff, a global chief engineer and program manager at General Motors, said the company had gained significant talent and intellectual property as a result of its collaborations on previous EcoCar competitions. Now, GM is "also eager to see how the students will redesign and add more efficiency to an iconic muscle car like the Chevrolet Camaro," Kolhoff said.

Fifteen universities are wrapping up the three-year EcoCar2 competition with a final evaluation scheduled for June 1 to 12, in Milford, Michigan.

Universities scheduled to compete in the next competition, which will reach completion in 2018, are: Arizona State, Cal State, Colorado State, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Georgia Tech, McMaster University (Ontario), Mississippi State, Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama, Tennessee, Washington, Waterloo (Ontario), Virginia Tech, Wayne State and West Virginia.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 10 Months Ago
      The typical Camaro driver weighs in at about 300lbs, start the weight reduction there
      • 9 Months Ago
      • 9 Months Ago
      • 9 Months Ago
      • 10 Months Ago
      The more important question is "WHY"?! If you want a fuel efficient car, by a fuel efficient car. If you want a Camaro, buy a Camaro.
      Hello PDavan7
      • 10 Months Ago
      Start by using a smaller body. The current land yacht frame is much to heavy as with any vessel expected to be fuel efficient. Ask Toyota how they build a light weight engine then add power to it. If there's any money left over use a carbon fiber or other light weight alloys for body panels. To finish try a new modern design so more people will want to own it and build it in America because we need jobs here too.
      • 9 Months Ago
      • 9 Months Ago
      Great stuff if it happens and I believe it could.
      • 10 Months Ago
      If they can make it sound like a supercharged V8, that would be the only way i would by a hybrid
      • 9 Months Ago