The Vue has arrived! That means a team of West Virginia University engineering students can move from the theoretical and get their hands dirty actually working on transforming a 2009 Saturn Vue into the next generation EcoCAR.

The WVU EcoCAR team is part of NeXt Challenge, which includes 17 universities across the U.S. and Canada. Each team’s task is to redesign and re-engineer a Vue to further minimize fuel consumption and reduce emissions while retaining the vehicle’s performance and consumer appeal. The contest, which began last year, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors.

Last year, WVU’s team designed a virtual model of their vehicle using advanced software and computer modeling tools. This year, they’ve advanced to the physical stage of the competition, and will begin work under the hood of the vehicle and, ultimately, take it to the road. WVU students will incorporate an advanced hybrid vehicle powered by a 1.3 liter diesel engine, fueled by B20 biodiesel, a 2-mode hybrid transmission and a lithium ion battery system into the Vue.

“EcoCAR gives students real-world, hands-on design and engineering experience,” said Dr. Scott Wayne, the team’s faculty advisor. “Our students have worked hard this past year, and they are excited for the opportunity to integrate their designs into the vehicle.”

The other 16 university teams competing in EcoCAR are: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; Georgia Tech; Howard University; Michigan Technological University; Mississippi State University; Missouri University of Science and Technology; North Carolina State University; Ohio State University; Pennsylvania State University; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Texas Tech University; University of Ontario Institute of Technology; University of Victoria; University of Waterloo; University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Virginia Tech.

EcoCAR builds on the 20-year history of DOE advanced vehicle technology competitions and gives engineering students the chance to design and build advanced vehicles that demonstrate leading-edge automotive technologies. GM provides vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring and operational support. DOE and its research and development facility, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation, technical and logistical support. Through this important partnership between government and industry, EcoCAR aims to inspire and support the next generation of scientists and engineers to unite around the common goal of sustainable mobility. Additional information about the EcoCAR competition and photos are available on the Web at:

Contacts: Nicole Fernandes, EcoCAR team member


Susan Case, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources

(Media Note: Photos available at

What other alternative energy projects do you think WVU students should explore?