GM may have discarded the Saturn brand in the company's bankruptcy, but there are still at least 150 young engineers working hard to turn a Saturn Vue into the most efficient vehicle possible. The engineers are all students from 17 universities who are participating in the EcoCAR challenge, the three-year follow-up to Challenge X.

The 17 EcoCAR teams have now spent a year doing the theoretical work to pick the powertrain they want to install in their Vue. EcoCAR guidelines allow them to "explore a variety of cutting-edge clean vehicle solutions, including full-function electric, range-extended electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fuel cell technologies." Reducing weight, improving aerodynamics and using biofuels or hydrogen is also allowed. Year Two of the competition – in which the teams begin to translate their calculations into the real world – kicked off in Boston last week.

GM unveiled the Vue as the donor vehicle for EcoCar last December. EcoCAR is sponsored by A123Systems, General Motors Company, and the U.S. Department of Energy. More details after the jump.

[Source: EcoCAR]


EcoCAR Competition Celebrates Year Two Kick-Off and Commitment to Automotive Innovation at Boston's Museum of Science

BOSTON (September 25, 2009) – Students, sponsors and organizers participating in the collegiate engineering competition, EcoCAR: the NeXt Challenge, gathered at the program's Fall Workshop in Boston this week. The city's rich history as a center for higher education excellence and its growing reputation as an incubator for clean technology and alternative energy made it an ideal place for the EcoCAR teams to learn, collaborate and celebrate the beginning of the Competition's next stage.

EcoCAR sponsors, A123Systems, General Motors Company, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Workshop's host, The MathWorks, were on hand to guide the students with technical expertise, advanced engineering tools and state-of-the-art powertrain components as the teams build the green cars of the future.

The event also includ ed presentations from the sponsors that highlighted the goals of Year Two, their specific contributions to the teams and their commitment to advancing education in engineering, science and math.

Key comments from the speakers' presentations include:

"EcoCAR takes some of the most ambitious and brightest students and asks them to create the next generation of highly efficient vehicles that reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. While they gain valuable hands-on experience, the auto industry gets a sneak peek at the Nation's future in automotive engineering." Connie Bezanson, Manager Education and Student Competitions, U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Vehicle Technologies

"The EcoCAR Challenge is exposing today's engineering students to production hardened automotive engineering processes and tools. We believe students emerge from this competition better prepared for careers that require the skills to solve today's most complex engineering challenges." Paul Smith, Director of North American Consulting, The MathWorks

"We partner with the EcoCAR Challenge because we believe that the future of the clean technology shift lies with the next generation of innovators by providing the opportunity to develop new vehicle technologies that can significantly improve the environmental impact of future vehicle design." Rob Mosher, Director of Product Marketing, A123Systems

"At GM we've made great strides in recent years towards developing a portfolio of advanced technology solutions - from hybrids and flex fuel vehicles, to extended range electric technology and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. However, there is still much to be done. The next generation of engineers, like those in the EcoCAR Challenge, will help move us from where we stand today to a new reality by bringing fresh talent and continued innovation to the industry." Kent Helfrich, director, Powertrain Software Engineering, General Motors

About EcoCAR

EcoCAR is a three-year competition that builds on the 20-year history of DOE 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 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, provide competition management, team evaluation and technical and logistical support. Through this important partnership between government and industry, EcoCAR aims to inspire and support the next generation of scientists and engineers to unite around the common goal of sustainable mobility. For more EcoCAR information visit

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