Automotive challenge to featured advanced vehicles, solar home

The new economic reality is challenging fundamental views on living and lifestyle, including our personal decisions about energy usage. If you ever imagined living in a solar home or choosing a new vehicle technology to match your lifestyle — electric, solar electric, hybrid, pluggable hybrid, fuel cell or alternative fuel — Penn State's Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory may have just the event to get you thinking.

Operated by the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute, the vehicle laboratory will host the 21st Century Automotive Challenge April 17 to 19. On April 18, participating vehicles will be on display along with Penn State's award-winning MorningStar solar home. Visitors can ask questions and talk with competition participants during two display events.

Vehicles will be on display from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Talleyrand Park in Bellefonte. From 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. the vehicles can be seen at the Penn State Center for Sustainability's MorningStar solar home, located next to the Centre County Convention and Visitors Bureau, northeast of Beaver Stadium. Some of Penn State's student competition vehicles will be competing and on display, including the 2008 award-winning Chevrolet Equinox hybrid and an electric-powered 1959 Berkeley.

The vehicle laboratory is partnering with the center to integrate vehicle-to-grid elements into the competition between competitors and the center's MorningStar solar home.

"This competition format will demonstrate the reality of car and home interconnectivity," said center director David Riley, "It's especially pertinent with the emergence of production pluggable electric and hybrid cars in the American consumer marketplace."

With vehicles representing a range of advanced technologies, the competition events will include inspection and dynamic tests as well as travel scenarios representing a busy day of errands and a day of leisure travel. The competition events are closed to the public.

Participants include teams from the former American Tour de Sol Electric Vehicle Championship, Eastern Electric Vehicle Club, and local companies.

Scoring officials will include professionals from Penn College of Technology and Schreyer Honors College, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Technology and the local racing community.

"We are excited to be centering this competition in Penn State's domain, where many different types of advanced alternative fuel vehicle technologies have been designed, built, and researched and where infrastructure for various means of fueling exist," said laboratory director and LTI research associate Joel Anstrom. The collaborators plan to make the competition an annual event with an expanded format. 

More information can be found online at www.vss.psu.edu/HHVRL/events.html or by contacting Theresa Maher at tlm275@psu.edu or (814) 883-4515.

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Last Updated April 15, 2009