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  • 2nd Place overall
  • Best performance
  • 1st place battery pack
  • 2nd Place electrical presentation
  • Most impressive center stack computer

UW EcoCAR2 Homepage -- interactive project information
UW EcoCAR2 Facebook -- media, news, pictures
EcoCAR2 Homepage -- teams, rules, pictures

Next Generation of Engineers
Mission: Gain hands-on experience creating a cleaner more efficient vehicle.

EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future, is a three-year collegiate student engineering competition and the only program of its kind. The competition's mission is a vital one: offer an unparalleled hands-on experience to educate the next generation of automotive engineers while striving to minimize energy consumption and reduce emissions in the next generation of automobiles.

EcoCAR 2 builds on a proud 23-year history of DOE Advanced Vehicle Competitions that exemplify the power of public/private partnerships in providing invaluable experience and training to promising, young minds readying to enter the job market.

Representing the University of Washington, the UW EcoCAR2 team consists of engineering, communications, and business students competing in the EcoCAR 2 competition. Over three years, the team will have modeled the vehicle and potential drivetrain architecture, built a showroom quality hybrid vehicle, and launched an exhaustive outreach program intended to educate consumers on green vehicle technology. With the University of Washington's background in environmental science and transportation technology, the team is confident in its ability to excel in this competition.

The University of Washington has extensive experience in advanced vehicle technologies. From developing composite materials for Boeing to designing a carbon fiber monocoque for Lamborghini, University of Washington engineering students have the tools to succeed in pushing the envelope. However, since this is UW's first time participating in an advanced vehicle technology competition (AVTC), a dedicated EcoCAR program is being built from the ground up. The UW EcoCAR2 team's goal is to create a laboratory for ongoing alternative fuel research beyond the scope of the competition. The UW Advanced Vehicle Works is born.

3-Year Competition
Filled with workshops, reports, mentor visits, and competitions.

The EcoCAR2 project is divided into 3 year-long sections. The first year (2011-2012) was focused on architecture selection, component sourcing, part modeling, and controls simulation.

This second year (2012-2013) was focused on implementing the designs by removing the stock powertrain and then integrating all of the new components into the donated vehicle. In May the car was put through an array of tests to evaluate the performance of the vehicle. Vehicles were not expected to be perfected and fully optimized by that point. This is the purpose of Year 3 (2013-2014): to bring the handling and appearance to be 99% ready to hypothetically be sold at a dealership.

During each year there are two workshops (this year's workshops were in Boston and Austin) where team members receive hands on training from industry professional and are able to talk with suppliers and get to know other teams. Through out the year, a number of reports are due to make sure that team stay up to speed to complete the project. The UW EcoCAR2 team GM mentor (Michael Abowd) periodically visits to encourage and assist the team. At the end of each year is a competition where teams present their designs and their cars are tested.

Our finished 2013 Chevy Malibu donated by General Motors

All teams competing in the UW EcoCAR2 competition have been provided a 2013 Chevy Malibu by General Motors. Teams are expected to remove the stock powertrain and replace it with our own more fuel efficient powertrain.

The UW EcoCAR2 team received its Malibu back in July and began disassembly in November. When all of the seats were removed and all of the powertrain was out, the car resembled a skeleton. The car has now been reassembled with the new components.

That stands for Through-The-Road Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

The UW EcoCAR2 team has decided to convert their 2013 Chevy Malibu into a Through-The-Road (TTR) Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). In this architecture, a diesel engine is connected to the front axle and an electric motor is connected to the rear axle. This architecture provides simpler component packaging, more power, all-wheel-drive, and better weight distribution, while still enabling the vehicle to get the equivalent of 59 MPG.

For the first 44 miles driven, all of the vehicle's power will come from the electric motor on the rear axle. Then, when the batteries are depleted, the engine will turn on. The engine's power output will be kept at its most efficient level. This could be more or less power than the driver is actually requesting with the gas pedal, so the electric motor will either add power or absorb power into the battery to meet the driver's request. If at any point, the driver floors it, both the engine and motor will output full power (a massive 333 HP)!

A Toyota Prius does a very similar technique, but uses a very complicated torque coupling transmission to connect the engine and motor. In the Prius, all of these components have to fit in the front of the car, which makes it front heavy and requires smaller less powerful components to be used. By connecting the motor and engine Through-The-Road, the UW EcoCAR2 team is able to use more powerful components and therefore achieve much better handling and speed.

The Chevy Volt is even more similar! The Volt has an electric motor on the rear axle and an engine in the front, but the engine is not connected to the front axle. Instead it is connected to a generator which powers the motor. This (like the Prius) has the disadvantage of limiting the overall power available at the wheels and eliminates all-wheel-drive capabilities.

The advantage that the Prius and Volt have over the UW EcoCAR2 team's architecture is that transferring power Through-The-Road is not quite as efficient as through a generator or direct mechanical linkage.

To learn more about our component selection, please check out our interactive vehicle model

Bio-Diesel and Electricity
The next generation of American vehicles will likely use Diesel.

With a 44 mile electric range, most drivers could drive to work, charge, and drive home without ever having to pay for a drop of fuel.

The fact is diesel engines are more efficient at converting chemical energy into mechanical energy. Diesel is also more energy dense. These two facts mean less CO2 is produced and drivers can go farther on a single tank.

The UW EcoCAR2 team has chosen to use Diesel that is made of 20% biological material. Unlike ethanol, this material does not have to be corn. It could be alga, yard waste, or old vegetable oil. This helps eliminate some of the political and economic issues associated with corn based ethanol production.

Bio-Diesel does have its disadvantages. Most notably, it produces more NOx emissions (a key ingredient in smog). To combat this, the UW EcoCAR2 team is installing urea injection into the exhaust system. The urea reacts with NOx and renders it harmless.

99% Production Ready
Consumer acceptability is critical.

Unlike many automotive competitions, EcoCAR2 makes consumer acceptability a top priority. The UW EcoCAR2 team is creating a faster, more efficient car while maintaining 5 seats and a reasonable amount of trunk space along with adding a completely redesigned center console.

It is one thing to design a solar panel car with a ton of batteries, but if it can never get above 50 MPH or there is only two seats, then it probably will not sell. Similarly if the interior or exterior look sloppy, it also will not sell. Therefore teams are evaluated on all aspects of consumer acceptability, from the amount of trunk space to the number of coat hangers and from how the car rides to the fit and finish.

In order to improve both the efficiency of the vehicle and increase the consumer acceptability, the UW EcoCAR2 team is designing and implementing a whole new touch screen center console. The touch screen is being designed to be as safe and intuitive as possible while also being well styled and provide the driver valuable feedback about their driving habits to help them improve the efficiency of their driving.

Vehicle Technical Specifications
Click for larger view


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