EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future was a three-year-long AVTC challenge from 2011 – 2014. The competition challenged 15 universities from across North America to reduce the environmental impact of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu by improving its fuel efficiency and minimizing the vehicle’s emissions while retaining its performance and consumer appeal.
With their first time in AVTCs, the EcoCAR team at the University of Washington, Seattle developed a parallel through-the-road (PTTR) plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) architecture. The team used a variety of tools and methods to select this final architecture, which was chosen as the best combination of efficiency and feasibility for the UW team. A Remy electric traction motor, assembled by AM Racing, was fitted to the rear of the vehicle to drive the rear wheels. An electric energy storage system from A123 Systems was installed in the former spare tire well to provide power to the rear electric traction motor. Upfront, a biodiesel GM 1.7 L diesel engine powered the car after full charge depletion. Even after the vehicle entered this charge sustaining mode, the electric motor could still be used to assist the engine and increase the overall vehicle efficiency.