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CSU students begin rebuilding Chevy Malibu for national 'EcoCAR' competition

September 24, 2012
by Rachel Griess

Students participating in the "EcoCAR 2: Plugging into the Future" competition have received the 2013 General Motors Chevrolet Malibu and are beginning to take the vehicle apart this week.

This step begins the second year of the national competition where 15 North American universities are faced with the challenge to convert the Malibu into a hybrid/electric or fuel-cell vehicle reducing its environmental impact without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability.

CSU is the only team in the competition building a hydrogen fuel cell plug-in vehicle.

Students redesigning transportation

“We really believe that the hydrogen fuel cell plug-in hybrid vehicle architecture represents the way that automakers will design vehicles 20 years from now,” said Thomas Bradley, the team’s faculty advisor. “To CSU, this is more than a student design competition – it is a chance for our students to research and develop the future of personal transportation.”

A hydrogen fuel cell plug-in vehicle uses the electrical output of a fuel cell to power the motor and charge the vehicle’s battery. The vehicle is fueled by gaseous hydrogen from a hydrogen refueling station and/or by charging the battery from a standard wall outlet. In the fuel cell, hydrogen and oxygen are combined in an electrochemical reaction that creates electricity with only water as a byproduct. No tailpipe emissions derive from plug-in fuel cell vehicles.

General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy selected CSU for the competition in April 2011. The first year was spent putting together a team and developing the car design. The next two years are dedicated to converting, testing, integrating, and perfecting the designs for a week-long competition of engineering tests, determining the car’s readiness for production.

General Motors provides each of the teams with a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, as well as vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. The U.S. Department of Energy and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation and logistical support.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336