Penn State's EcoCAR 2 team finishes third at competition

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Following its 2013 first-place finish, Penn State's Advanced Vehicle Team (AVT) won third overall and claimed a number of top honors at the EcoCAR 2 Year Three Competition.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future is a three-year contest that challenged 15 teams from colleges across North America to re-engineer a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu to increase fuel efficiency and decrease harmful emissions while maintaining performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

The competition's vehicle testing and evaluation phase ran from June 1 to 8 at the General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, while team presentations took place from June 9 to 12 at the U.S. Department of Energy's headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In addition to its third-place finish, the Penn State team brought home seven other awards: Best Mechanical Presentation; Best AVL DRIVE Quality; Best Petroleum Energy Use Runner Up; Lowest Criteria Emissions Runner Up; Lowest Energy Consumption Runner Up; second place, Communications; third place, Clean Cities Collaboration Award; and Best Implementation Plan.

"Placing third is incredible," said Benjamin Sattler, a mechanical engineering junior. "We owe a lot to the really great Year Two team."

Tasked with modeling in Year One, developing a working vehicle in Year Two and making refinements in Year Three, Sattler said the team was able to focus on the finer details of a production vehicle.

Competition officials lauded the Penn State team and its vehicle on a number of fronts, including the first to pass all competition events, third to pass safety tech inspection, car with the smallest tires, the lightest weight vehicle and the only automobile with the maximum capacity of four passengers at the event.

For its efforts, the team won $14,500 from this year's contest, including $7,000 for winning third place overall, $2,000 for second in communications; $1,500 for AVL DRIVE quality, $1,000 for best mechanical presentation, $750 for second in lowest energy consumption, $750 for second in lowest criteria emissions, $750 for second in lowest petroleum energy use and $500 for best implementation plan.

Last year, Penn State finished first overall at the Year Two contest, winning more than half a dozen individual event trophies and $18,000 in prize money.

Penn State's entry is a series E85 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that runs on electric charge and E85 fuel, which is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. More than 70 undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff make up the University's AVT.

At this year's competition, Ohio State finished first, followed by the University of Washington, Penn State, Purdue, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Virginia Tech.

Penn State has already been accepted into the EcoCAR 3 competition, which will involve a similar progression over four years.

Last Updated June 19, 2014