A biodiesel hybrid based on the Saturn VUE from Mississippi State is the winning vehicle for year two of General Motors’ EcoCAR challenge. The EcoCAR challenge started when GM donated an SUV to 16 universities and instructed engineering students to minimize emissions and fuel consumption while retaining as much utility as possible.
Mississippi State’s team designed a Vue that has a 60-mile electric range before the 1.3-liter turbodiesel engine must kick in. GM claims the vehicle achieved the equivalent of 118 mpg. The school’s entry also received nine awards including one for acceleration. Look closely at the winning vehicle, pictured in the top two photos, and you’ll see that Saturn badges on the grille and wheels have been replaced by Chevrolet badges.
A total of about $100,000 in award money will be distributed for these second-year finals, which were held this month in Yuma, Arizona, and San Diego, California.
“Each team experimented with technologies and made great strides towards optimizing fuel efficiency and minimizing emissions. With critical and successful testing under their belts, we’re excited to see the teams refine and improve their vehicles in the last leg of the EcoCAR competition,” said Karl Stracke, GM vice president, Global Vehicle Engineering.
Virginia Tech’s entry, which had a 40-mile electric range, won second place. The team started with a 2.4-liter ethanol engine along with the electric technology.
The third-place entry from Penn State used the 1.3-liter four-cylinder diesel, like Mississippi State. The extended-range electric vehicle (EREV in GM-speak) was rated for 57 mpg.
An online chat will be held with the top three teams on Friday, June 4 at 3 p.m. EDT at the EcoCAR’s blog here.