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ecoCAR Camaro 2
Photo via EcoCAR.

How do you make a muscle car more fuel efficient, but not lose any performance?

That’s a challenge 16 North American teams are taking on for the next few years as part of EcoCAR 3, a four-year automotive technology and engineering competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors and managed by the Argonne National Laboratory.

The teams, including one from the University of Washington, are asked to redesign a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro to reduce its carbon emissions while maintaining acceleration you’d expect from a Camaro.

The UW EcoCAR 3 team leadership.
The UW EcoCAR 3 team leadership. Photo via UW.

For the past year, teams have worked without the vehicle itself, using modeling software and computer simulations to come up with different design concepts.

On Thursday, students celebrated the one-year milestone with a scavenger hunt in Seattle and also received keys to their respective Camaro’s.

Sylvie Troxel, mechanical co-lead for UW’s EcoCAR 3 team.
Sylvie Troxel, mechanical co-lead for UW’s EcoCAR 3 team. Photo via UW.

The UW participated in EcoCAR 2 last year and finished second for its redesigned Chevy Malibu. This time, however, the students are working with a different beast.

“It’s more exciting to work with performance vehicle,” said Sylvie Troxel, a UW engineer student leading the EcoCAR 3 mechanical team.

Ryan Mallory, another UW student who’s leading the controls team, noted that his group plans to retrofit the Camaro with a large battery pack and electric motors.

“We want the car to be just as fast 0-to-60, if not better, than its stock version,” Mallory said.

The UW also plans to build a heads-up display that utilizes projection technology and allow information like air conditioning levels or the nearest gas station to appear on the car windshield.

“We’re not only trying to make it perform, but also sell it to a consumer,” Mallory said.  

The students say they love working on a project like this because it better prepares them for careers after college.

“In class we learn theory, but don’t get that hands-on experience,” Mallory said. “With EcoCAR, we get to work with a large team with people from multiple disciplines that all have to work together to make this work for a common goal.”

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