In a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors, 16 universities across North America will be challenged to turn the Chevrolet Camaro, the iconic American gas-guzzling high-performance car, into an environmentally friendly sports car for the future. GM gives each EcoCAR 3 team an all-new Chevrolet Camaro, and they have four years to apply the latest cutting-edge technologies and incorporate new innovative concepts, in order to harness those ideas into the ultimate energy-efficient, high performance vehicle
Teams of students will be tasked with coming up with innovative ways to reduce emissions and make the Camaro more fuel efficient, including techniques such as alternative fuel sources, hybrid technologies, and converting the car to run on electric power. One of the mandates is that the Camaro maintain the high performance standards it has become known for.
The University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, both from Ontario, Canada, have joined together to form UWAFT (University of Waterloo Alternative Fuels Team), a team of roughly 85 students ready to take on the task. The team is currently in Year 2 of the competition and will spend the next three years converting the Camaro to a Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle that runs on E85, “a renewable fuel made from plant material that is a gasoline-ethanol blend containing 51 to 83 percent ethanol.”
Patrick Ellsworth, the Engineering Manager for UWAFT, said the competition is a great experience for any student.
“Students are drawn to the team because it allows them to develop hands on experience that compliments their theoretical learning in their undergrad,” said Ellsworth. “It also allows them to develop industry contacts and be directly involved with automotive sector.”
In addition to having the strong engineering and business education backgrounds from the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier, respectively, the team also has the distinct status as being just one of two Canadian teams competing in EcoCAR3 (the other being McMaster University from Hamilton, Ontario).
“…it [being Canadian] definitely provides both advantages and disadvantages,” said Paul McInnis, Electrical ADAS Lead. “An advantage is the support of the Canadian government, and NSERC funding. It also leads to certain difficulties of transportation. Putting a Canadian spin on an old school American performance car. We are targeting a Canadian market segment, so the team has specifically looked at driving in the winter conditions of Canada including weather adaptive features. Were happy to represent Canada in our competition.”
Electric vehicles (and even self-driving vehicles) seem to be the future of the automotive industry. EcoCAR3 will play a big part in helping the next generation of engineers, scientists, and auto-makers lead the way into (hopefully) a much more environmentally friendly era of driving.”