Ohio State University recently took top honors in the 2009 EcoCAR Competition, which challenged students across the US and Canada to redesign a standard Saturn VUE into an ultra-efficient vehicle. Their winning EcoCAR utilizes a lithium battery and an ethanol-fueled engine to achieve an incredible 300% increase in fuel efficiency over its standard model counterpart! The vehicle took plenty of man hours, good design and well-honed math skills, but the end result proves that future-forward vehicles can be built with the technology of today.

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The EcoCAR Competition is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Government of Canada, and General Motors. The challenge was to take a standard 2009 Saturn VUE and improve the efficiency of the vehicle, while making sure that its performance didn’t take a significant hit. The competition is spread over three years, with the first year covering the modeling and design of an extended range vehicle. Years two and three are focused on actually bringing the vehicles to fruition.

Students were able to use whatever resources they desired, and approaches varied from turning the Saturn VUE into extended range electric vehicles (EREV), to fuel-cell powerhouses. The Ohio State University vehicle is an EREV powered by a 1.85 liter engine fueled by E85 ethanol, with lithium ion battery technology and plug-in capability. Not bad for a student vehicle!

“My teammates and I are thrilled to be named this year’s winner of the EcoCAR competition,” said Eric Schacht, a student engineer and team leader from The Ohio State team. “The many long days and late nights spent perfecting our vehicle design paid off today, and we couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to participate in such an important competition.”

+ Ohio State University EcoCAR

+ EcoCAR Challenge