Florida Students Build A Super Efficient Hybrid Vehicle

Apr 17, 2014

The EcoEagles with their car
Credit EcoEagles

Students from Florida’s Embry-Riddle University have designed a hybrid car that consumes energy as efficiently as a gas-powered car getting 100 miles per gallon.  This is based on an EPA formula comparing the energy used to charge the batteries with a gallon of gas – 33.7 kilowatt hours equals one gallon.

The project is part of the EcoCAR 2 challenge, a program sponsored by GM and the U.S. Department of Energy pitting university teams from the United States and Canada against one another to build a car that is both eco-friendly and commercially viable.  The goal is to re-engineer a 2013 Chevy Malibu to use less fuel and cut emissions without sacrificing performance.  The Embry-Riddle team call themselves the ‘EcoEagles’.  Their spokesman, Calvin Baker, says their vehicle solves the problem with batteries and bio-diesel.

“We have a series plug-in hybrid electric vehicle architecture,” Baker says.  “It’s PHEV which means that we have an electric motor in the car, and then also a diesel engine.”  

Baker says the batteries alone give their car a 35-45 mile range – plenty for the comings and goings of the average commuter.

“The diesel engine turns on when that range is depleted,” Baker says. “With a full five-gallon tank of biodiesel, and full battery charge the car has a 241 mile range.”

The EcoCAR 2 project is entering its third and final year.  So far, the teams have designed, built and tested their improvements. This June, they’ll travel to Michigan to compete at the General Motors proving grounds.  Right now, the ‘EcoEagles’ are taking their car on tour.  This week they’re visiting Jacksonville, Gainesville and Tallahassee.  They’ll be at the Capitol Friday morning to show off their work.