News Source: 
The Daily

The UW EcoCAR 2 team is finishing its overhaul of a new car before shipping it out for initial performance tests. In order to make the most energy-efficient, plug-in hybrid possible, the team has carefully implemented designs developed through years of work.

“Since it ships out so soon, we’re nearly there,” said Tyler Rose, communications manager and MBA candidate at the Foster School of Business. “We’ve taken out the interior and prepared the battery cells, which will go in back, to power the electric motor.”

The car will run on an electric motor until its range is exhausted and then supplement with a diesel engine, which is powered by a standard car battery, similarly to how the Chevy Volt functions. The UW EcoCAR 2 team is taking a Chevrolet Malibu 2013 model and outfitting it with the electric motor and backup diesel engine. However, beyond simply replacing the engine, the team spent the better part of 10 months modeling and simulating hardware in order to produce the most fuel-economical vehicles possible. The past few months consisted of rendering those designs in reality.

“That was the bulk of the work last year,” Rose said. “The engine and motor, which are pretty unique, can be easy to install. One thing that’s different and holding us up is mapping the connections.”

The challenge of wiring in a modern vehicle — especially a hybrid that has to meet rigorous fuel-economy standards — is complex enough without the necessity of meeting the competition’s standards.

“We can’t get the engine in there until we get schematics,” Rose said. “Once we have those, we begin putting the parts in.”

Not all parts are gratis from corporate sponsors —  for example, the custom-made frame.