“Start your engines…”
Earlier this year, the EcoCAR 3 competition kicked off across the nation. The goal of this 4 year contest is to turn a Chevy Camaro – a quintessential “muscle car” – into a gas-sipping, hybrid-electric vehicle while keeping the mind-blowing driving performance. It’s a tall order.
While many people equate “reducing auto emissions” with “driving a boring, under-powered hybrid,” the Eco Car 3 project upends that assumption. General Motors, the U.S. Department of Energy, and teams from some 16 universities – from Arizona State to West Virginia University – are designing a new Chevy Camaro that will:
- Improve gas mileage
- Reduce emissions
- Reduce petroleum use
- Maintain driving performance
- Offer an acceptable cost to consumers
That’s big. Specific goals aren’t known yet – that’s what students and sponsors are figuring out right now. Once design goals are set, the 16 teams in this “Advanced Vehicle Technology” contest will work to beat the 2014 Camaro’s current 22 mpg, annual petroleum consumption of about 630 gallons, and carbon dioxide emissions of more than 10,000 pounds per year (assuming 12,000 miles driven.)
Why it’s important
You don’t have to love Camaros to get excited about this effort.
According to the U.S. EPA, cars and light trucks are the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country, right behind buildings. So figuring out how to reduce the emissions from the transportation sector can have a huge overall impact of climate change. Lessons learned in creating this Camaro may resonate up and down auto supply chains, and all around the world. (Did you know there are over 1 billion vehicles on the planet right now?)
So while it’s early days in the competition, reaching the goal has huge, happy implications for drivers and non-drivers alike.
Why it’s cool
The Eco Car 3 competition is a great example of the sustainable economy in action. It embodies:
- Business innovation. It will take innovation in everything from engineering to computer sciences to communications to pull this off. Innovation will be key to a great many sustainable businesses of the future.
- Collaboration between public, private and academic spheres. As Andrew Winston wrote in his book “The Big Pivot,” “radical collaboration” is necessary when confronting the kinds of mega-challenges of climate change. This project has collaboration baked in.
- Significant climate impact. This contest involves rethinking a business sector that is the number #2 source of emissions – that matters on a global scale.
- Employment opportunities. The competition is about more than creating a cool product. The students competing in Eco Car 3 will learn leading-edge skills that they can take into the job market. According to Christian Locklayer, student at Georgia Tech and a communications manager for the Eco Car 3 effort, some 80% of the students who work on the project land jobs in the auto industry upon graduation.
- Future focus. If you think the auto industry is old and dying – think again. From the arrival of the Tesla to Google’s “driverless car” technology, the industry seems more vibrant than ever. The Eco Car 3 project is one of many seeds from which mighty oaks can grow.
Let’s see what happens – vroom, vroom!!
Images courtesy of Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions