Next green car technology hub: Starkville, Mississippi?

If you’re a betting person, what university would you wager on for creating the next generation of cleaner vehicles? MIT? Cal Tech? Stanford? Turns out you may want to look a little further south… the student team from Mississippi State University took the flag at the second year of EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge.

The Challenge, a three-year competition focused on “development, exploration and implementation of advanced vehicle technologies,” recently held its second-year finals in Yuma, Arizona and San Diego, California. The 16 teams in the competition (and, OK, the schools above aren’t participating) each take a donated Saturn VUE and try to turn it into a green super car. The MSU team chose to develop an extended-range electric vehicle (EREV) hybrid that featured

  • a 21.3 kWh A123Systems battery pack, which provides an electric range of 60 miles
  • a 1.3 L GM turbodiesel engine and 75 kW UQM generator in a series plug-in configuration
  • a whopping 118 miles per gallon gas equivalent (combined city/highway cycle).

Runners-up Virginia Tech and Penn State also went with an EREV powertrain; all three schools’ entries are also designed to run on biofuels.

This is the Bulldogs’ second year to take honors in the competition: during the first-year design phase, the team placed third. Perhaps Starkville’s the place to be if you’re looking to get into green car design and engineering…

The EcoCar Challenge is a joint project of the US Department of Energy and General Motors; the Argonne National Laboratory is managing the competition.

Think MSU’s design is feasible for eventual production? Think GM’s getting relatively cheap engineering help? Got other thoughts on this competition, or the designs coming out of it. Let us know…

via the Starkville Daily News


Image: Mississippi State’s winning entry Credit: General Motors