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Virginia Tech EcoCAR Entry Tops 81 MPG Equivalent

A car that achieved a fuel efficiency of nearly 82 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent helped a team of students from Virginia Tech University take top honors during the final rounds of the three-year EcoCAR Challenge competition last month. The Hybrid Electric Team of Virginia Tech or HEVT took a stock vehicle provided by General Motors and converted it to an extended-range electric vehicle running on E85, an ethanol fuel blend. The modified vehicle ran 70 percent more efficiently than the car the team started with.

The final judging session, consisting of safety and technical tests, took place at GM's Proving Ground in Milford, MI.

"Designing an extended-range electric vehicle using E85 was challenging, but clearly worth it in the end," said Patrick Walsh, co-team leader for Virginia Tech. "The entire team has put so much time and effort into designing and refining our vehicle, and we've gained valuable knowledge and hands-on experience that will prepare us for our engineering careers."

Ohio State University took second place with its own E85 EREV, and Canada's University of Waterloo took third place with a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

The competition, sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and GM, challenged student teams from across North America to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety, performance, and consumer allure.

"The ingenuity and dedication shown by the students of Virginia Tech in building this next-generation vehicle will help them launch careers as leaders in the clean energy field," said U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. "With the experience and skills these innovative students have gained through the EcoCAR competition, they will help reduce our nation's reliance on oil imports and keep U.S. industries competitive in the global marketplace."

This fall the two co-sponsors will launch "EcoCAR 2: Plugging in to the Future," the newest three-year chapter in the Department of Energy's Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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