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Members of the UW’s Advanced Vehicle Works team at work on their Chevy Malibu.

This is one of the most important car races on Earth, but it’s not about speed.

uw-car444Nope, this competition is all about methodically building a highly-efficient eco-friendly vehicle. Welcome to EcoCar 2, an international competition that pits 15 student-led teams against one another.

The University of Washington’s Advanced Vehicle Works team just took second prize in the 3-year competition, designing a Chevy Malibu that utilizes a biodiesel engine to power the front wheels and a 250-horsepower electric motor for the back. The car can travel 48 miles on one electric charge before switching to the biodiesel engine.

In addition to second place overall, the team won another nine awards, including best 0-60 mph time (6.95 seconds), lowest greenhouse gas emissions and lowest energy consumption. About 50 students from the University of Washington participated in the competition.

teams-carchallengeThe Ohio State University took home first prize in the competition, which included a week of testing in Detroit at GM’s Milford Proving Ground and then technical presentations to a panel of judges in Washington, D.C.

The UW’s vehicle design is called Parallel-Through-the-Road Plug-in Hybrid, which means the front and back wheels are not connected through a drive train. “Hypothetically, if you cut the car in half the front could operate itself and the back could operate itself,” said team member Kate Kitto.

The UW team has been invited to participate in EcoCar 3, which begins this fall and will include teams modifying a Chevy Camaro.

The competition is managed by Argonne National Laboratory and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, GM and 30 other government and industry organizations.

More photos of the vehicle and awards on the team’s Facebook page.

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