Across North America, 15 teams will be participating in the EcoCar2 Challenge, a three-year alternative fuels vehicle competition sponsored by General Motors and the Department of Energy.
Over the span of three years, GM will award around $100,000 in prizes to the students participating in the challenge, but the competition also functions as a job interview. Recently, Year One winner of the EcoCar2 Challenge was announced – Mississippi State University – but a dozen students were interviewed with a dozen job offers made “on the spot” according to Kent Helfrich, Executive Director of Electronic Controls and Software at GM.
The EcoCar2 Challenge pits students from various universities to refine an alternative powertrain for the new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. For Year One, the teams were judged on their engineering design plans and technology simulation with GM awarding vehicles and funds to certain teams that met its requirements.
In the previous EcoCar Challenge, students from the University of Virginia were able to increase the fuel economy of a Saturn Vue from a scant 24 mpg to an impressive 80-mpg figure.
Currently the 2013 Malibu is rated at 29-mpg and the EcoCar2 Challenge will test the teams to see how much more efficient they can make the Malibu’s fuel economy. The Year One winner, Mississippi State University, will be working to implement a series-parallel plug-in hybrid variant of the Malibu when they receive the vehicle next year.