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EcoCAR 2 team members in front row (left to right): Mitchell Rieger, Alex Doss, and Zach Hayden. In back row (left to right): Michael Hinricher, Jacob Wilson, and Alex Cox.

After receiving the keys to a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu less than a year ago, students on the UT EcoCAR 2 team have completely redesigned it to make it more eco-friendly. Now, their hard work will be tested against other teams across North America in the second phase matchup.

The graduate and undergraduate students on the team are competing in a three-year collegiate engineering competition called EcoCAR 2 established by the US Department of Energy and General Motors.

The media are invited to the vehicle’s send-off at 9:00 a.m. on April 29 on the top floor of the Eleventh Street Parking Garage, on the corner of 11th Street and Cumberland Avenue. Parking is available in the garage.

Reporters will be able to ride in the car, view demonstrations and interview the EcoCAR 2 team and mentors, College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis, and William Hamel, head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering.

The vehicle will be shipped to the General Motors Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona, where it will be put through a series of tests and compared to the other schools’ modified vehicles.

During the competition’s phase two this past year, the team removed car parts such as the stock fuel tank, radiator, and engine and input its own personal vehicle design components with the goal of making the GM-donated car a better performing, more efficient hybrid than what is currently on the roadways.

“Our vehicle is improved over the original as it has better fuel economy, emits less greenhouse and other harmful gases, and is a plug-in hybrid,” John Utley, graduate student and team leader. “It can drive up to thirty-four miles on electric power. The best plug-in hybrid cars on the market can drive up to forty and those were made in a factory, not by students.”

Depending on vehicle performance in Arizona, it will then be shipped to San Diego, California, for the remainder of the phase two competition. In San Diego, the team will showcase its EcoCAR 2 program including outreach, business, and engineering.

The EcoCAR 2 competition culminates at the end of each academic year when all of the schools and their vehicles come together to compete in more than a dozen static and dynamic events. UT won sixth place in first phase of the competition. Second phase winners will be announced May 24. Winners receive cash awards.

GM provides production vehicles, vehicle components, seed money, technical mentoring, and operational support to EcoCAR 2. The DOE and one of its research and development facilities, Argonne National Laboratory, provide competition management, team evaluation, and technical and logistical support. In total, the fifteen teams have been given $745 million in direct and in-kind support.

For more information on the student engineering program, the participating schools or the competition sponsors, visit the EcoCAR 2 website.

For more information about UT’s team, visit their website.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,

Kim Cowart (865-974-0686,

Photo Caption: EcoCAR 2 team members in front row (L to R): Mitchell Rieger, Alex Doss, and Zach Hayden. In back row (L to R): Michael Hinricher, Jacob Wilson, and Alex Cox.