DOE's EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge Collegiate Competition Announced
November 13, 2007
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a Notice of Program Interest for colleges and universities with accredited engineering programs in North America to compete for the opportunity to participate in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge — a new international collegiate vehicle engineering competition — through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.
EcoCAR seeks to advance the level of vehicle technology capable of reducing petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) while demonstrating the real-world performance of a range of technology options. Schools interested in receiving an RFP describing in detail the requirements for competing for one of the up to 16 available slots in EcoCAR are invited to express their interest by contacting the competition organizers through the process outlined at www.challengex.org/pdfs/ecocar_nopi_final.pdf.
The EcoCAR Challenge is a three-year competition that builds on the 19-year history of DOE advanced vehicle technology competitions by giving engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate leading-edge automotive technologies, with the goal of minimizing the environmental impact of personal transportation and illustrating pathways to a sustainable transportation future. DOE has again joined General Motors (GM), Natural Resources Canada, and other sponsors for this new competition series, named the EcoCAR Challenge. Argonne National Laboratory, a DOE R&D facility, will organize and operate the EcoCAR Challenge.
The technologies explored in EcoCAR are identical to the ones that are under investigation by the automotive industry to meet the demands of improved energy efficiency and dramatic reductions in GHGs, as well as to address California zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) regulations. These technologies include full-function electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell hybrid vehicles. The only fuels approved for use in EcoCAR are E-10 ethanol, E85 ethanol, B20 bio-diesel, compressed gaseous hydrogen, and the energy carrier electricity.
Teams selected on the basis of their response to the EcoCAR RFP will design and integrate advanced-technology powertrains, lightweight materials, and aerodynamic improvements into a production vehicle, with the goal of minimizing the environmental impact of personal transportation and leading the way to a sustainable transportation future. Using this approach, EcoCAR will explore pathways for future vehicles while giving the student participants the knowledge and experience they need to rapidly develop critical engineering skills and become the next generation of leaders in the automotive industry.
EcoCAR is based on a real-world integrated vehicle design and development process. Teams of engineers from the selected schools will develop their vehicles following a modified GM Global Vehicle Development Process (GVDP) for each phase of the three-year competition. By the end of the competition, the sponsors expect fully developed vehicles equivalent to prototypes ready for a production decision. While applying proven methods for engineering successful prototype vehicles, students will learn real-world engineering skills that will make them highly effective in the automotive industry. At the conclusion of each of EcoCAR’s three years, a week-long competition involving all of the participating schools will take place in June at a GM vehicle proving ground or other appropriate location in North America.
Over the three-year duration of the EcoCAR competition, teams will receive $10,000 in seed money in Year One, a wide range of powertrain components, a vehicle donated by GM, and technical/mentoring support from the competition sponsors. EcoCAR teams will also have a GM mentor knowledgeable in technologies relevant to the team assigned to assist them during the competition. We also expect to provide substantial seed money to each university to support a full-time graduate student who will provide the team with leadership and continuity over the three-year program.
Schools will be required to match cash seed money donations from EcoCAR sponsors and to provide class credit for students participating in the competition, release time equal to at least one class per semester for a faculty advisor from the engineering school, and logistical and promotional support for their team. Teams may also be asked to match seed money each year to support a full-time, graduate-level engineering team leader. A signed letter of support will be required from the Dean of the Engineering Department with each proposal. If accepted into EcoCAR, each school will be required to sign an annual Good Faith Agreement reaffirming the school’s full support of their team and explicitly stating its willingness to participate in all EcoCAR activities with at least one faculty advisor in attendance.
The EcoCAR RFP selection process is open to accredited engineering schools in Canada, the United States of America, and Mexico. The EcoCAR RFP will be available December 3, 2007. The organizers expect to have an open teleconference to discuss the details of the proposal and selection process early in January 2008; additional resources will be available from www.challengex.org until the new EcoCAR website has been established.
Final proposals for EcoCAR are due March 3, 2008. To receive an EcoCAR RFP, interested schools must complete an online Notice of Interest form. The RFP will be distributed after December 3, 2007, and selected participants will be announced in spring 2008.
Technical and administrative questions about the EcoCAR competition can be addressed to EcoCAR@anl.gov.