Mississippi State claims first-year prize for EcoCar 2 competition

After a year of modeling and simulation, 15 university teams will spend the next 24 months retrofitting 2013 Chevrolet Malibu cars into electric vehicles.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions

A series-parallel, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle design from Mississippi State University (MSU) was officially deemed the Year One winner in EcoCar 2, a design competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, General Motors and others.

All 15 teams received the keys this week to GM-donated 2013 Chevrolet Malibu's, the cars that they will redesign to test the proof of their electric vehicle architectural ideas. The focus of the first year was to use modeling and simulation to come up with an architectural approach that will be applied to the actual vehicles. Now, they'll see if their ideas really work.

There are five designs being tested altogether:

  • Parallel Through the Road Plug-in
  • Series Plug-in
  • Series Parallel Plug-in
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Series Plug-in
  • Split-Parallel Plug-in

"The design and simulation portion of this competition really challenges us to balance detailed engineering analysis with overall vehicle design tradeoffs," said Matthew Doude, the MSU team leader, in a statement.

More than 100 judges weighed in on the designs before giving the thumbs-up to the MSU approach as the overall design with the most potential (so far). David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, cited the team's innovation and ingenuity.

Now, all 15 teams will spend the next two years rebuilding, testing and adapting the Chevrolet vehicles that have been provided for the project.

Virginia Tech was the ultimate winner for EcoCar 1, a three-year competition that focused on creating an extended range vehicle architecture. The goal of EcoCar 2 is to improve the energy efficiency of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.