Texas Tech Engineering Students Head to Toronto for EcoCAR Competition

Students' plan includes better mileage and emissions

Even as American automakers find the need to reinvent themselves in terms of fuel economy, emissions and even public image, 17 colleges will compete in the EcoCAR challenge in Toronto beginning June 8, to design a car with reduced emissions and decreased energy consumption.

A group of Texas Tech engineering students are among the groups competing in EcoCAR, a challenge to reengineer a 2009 Saturn VUE with improved fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining the vehicle’s safety features and consumer appeal.

Timothy Maxwell, a mechanical engineering professor and member of Texas Tech’s EcoCAR team, said their car is unique and is an improvement on the stock VUE.

“The Texas Tech VUE has been designed to provide approximately 40 miles per gallon of gasoline equivalent and to exceed performance of the stock Saturn VUE in most other areas,” Maxwell said.

The Toronto competition marks the completion of the first year of the three-year project. There the teams will be presenting for judging their vehicle architecture through models and simulations. At the end of the Toronto competition, the teams will be given the car and two years to make their designs become a reality.

Sponsors of EcoCAR include the U.S. Department of Energy, the Canadian government, and General Motors Corp.