DETROIT — A Wayne State University team scored high points in a recent progress report for “EcoCar 2: Plugging In to the Future,” an engineering competition in which 15 North American university teams compete over three years to convert a gasoline-powered production car into a fully functional hybrid vehicle.
The WSU Hybrid Warriors earned 93 out of 100 points, higher than the average of 83.9 earned among the 15 competing schools. EcoCar 2 provides students with real-world, eco-friendly automotive engineering experience while striving to further improve the energy efficiency of an already highly efficient vehicle.

“The EcoCar 2 organizers were so impressed with our team’s work and overall progress that they complimented us repeatedly,” says Jerry Ku, associate professor, EcoCar 2 faculty advisor and director of WSU’s electric-drive vehicle engineering program. “They said that we had turned in some of the best electrical component schematics in our report. As the only Michigan school (in the competition), we’re looking forward to making the College of Engineering proud and showing that we can compete toe-to-toe against schools that have been participating in Department of Energy Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions much longer.”

The team also recently reached a significant competition milestone, completing on-target many major vehicle modifications, including installing a new flex-fuel engine for running E85 (a gasoline-ethanol fuel blend that is 85 percent ethanol) and a new rear axle for the hybrid-electric drivetrain. The vehicle is currently at Ohio State University undergoing a rigorous pre-competition inspection.

“We really like to encourage all engineering students to fully participate and engage in our EcoCAR 2 project because this is the best real-world engineering learning opportunity students can get anywhere in the world. It’s very exciting and rewarding,” Ku said.

The EcoCAR 2 competition is sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy, along with more than 20 other government and industry leaders.