Consumers want fuel efficiency as well as utility in their cars. That's why the U.S. Department of Energy has teamed with General Motors to sponsor Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility. This three-year contest asks university teams to enhance a 2005 Chevrolet Equinox's fuel efficiency by 50% while decreasing tailpipe emissions—and maintaining performance.
Seventeen teams answered the call. During the first year of the contest, they focused on modeling, simulation, and testing to guide their hardware development. Year two, which wrapped up in June, focused on integrating their powertrain designs into the Equinox and demonstrating their efficiency. In year three, the teams will refine their vehicles and bring them up to "showroom" specifications that will be attractive to consumers.
The Virginia Tech Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team took the 2006 stage's top prize. Its Equinox uses a Saab 2-liter E85 engine that runs on 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, integrated into the SUV with a split parallel hybrid electric drive. This combination uses 75% less petroleum than the stock Equinox engine.