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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee is among 15 university teams at the General Motors Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Mich., June 4-13 competing to design the sport utility vehicle of the future.

Dr. Jeff Hodgson, a UT engineering professor said each team was given a brand new Chevrolet Suburban in 1999 and ten thousand dollars in seed money. They were then challenged to rebuild this vehicle by making it a greener and more fuel-efficient vehicle. The challenge was to increase fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions while still maintaining the safety, comfort and performance of the original vehicle.

University teams used hybrid powertrains, advanced electronics, hydrogen fuel cells, alternative fuels, lightweight materials and other strategies.

The vehicles are being evaluated this week by teams of government and industry researchers sand engineers to see how well the teams met that challenge.

Next week after the competition is completed, the vehicles will all be on display at the U.S. Capitol where many of the team members will meet with Senators and Representatives to show them the results of this joint government-industry project.

The U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors Corporation are the primary sponsors of the FutureTruck program.

In 10 alternative fuel competitions over the last 11 years, UT has won three and finished among the top four nine times.

Other schools participating in FutureTruck 2000 are: Concordia, Cornell, George Washington and West Virginia universities; Georgia Institute of Technology, Michigan Technological University, Penn State, Texas Tech, Ohio State and Virginia Tech; and the universities of California-Davis, Idaho, Maryland, and Wisconsin at Madison.