Arizona State University advanced automotive engineering program students have unveiled their vision for creating a plug-in hybrid 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

The project called EcoCar3 is part of a competition promoted by General Motors, the Department of Energy and Argonne National Laboratories.

In the national program, Sixteen major colleges around the U.S were each given a brand-new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro V6 to re-engineer to be more fuel-efficient while maintaining its factory appeal and performance.

In the competition which spans four years, each school gets to choose their own route to achieve the goals, then build the cars which will compete head to head in the coming year in various steps and categories. These include but are not limited to power performance, efficiency, and emissions levels.

The ASU team has chosen to build theirs as a parallel plug-in hybrid. This week they have begun the work to begin installing their new powertrain.

Over 65 of ASU’s automotive engineering students have already been working full time in their design phases for over a year. The program encompassed studies on various powertrain platforms, feasibility and cost breakdowns for each, and the projected outcomes.

With a decision made, their engineering students have designed various components that their on-site engineering laboratories will be fabricating. Some components are however off the shelf. They’re starting with a General Motors 2.4 liter gasoline four-cylinder engine that will be mated to an 8L90 8-speed automatic transmission.

But in-between, will be a powerful GKN electric motor with an automatic clutch that can connect and disconnect the gasoline engine on the fly. To put it all together, their advanced engineering students have designed a custom bell-housing, engine mounts, connecting parts, and shortened drive shafts.

They will be creating their own in-house designed lithium-ion battery pack that will be mounted behind the rear seat inside the trunk space. This project alone requires much care for not only performance, but safety.

The big hurdle is that they’re also creating their own powertrain controller or ECU. With their own proprietary software it will manage the starting and stopping of the gasoline engine, power phasing of the electric motor, and the charging of the battery among other things.

The powertrain will be able to operate on electric power alone and together with the gasoline engine for maximum power. And to that, they say their goal is 500 plus pound-feet of torque which exceeds even the 6.2 liter LT1 V8. Their target acceleration is under 4.8 seconds to 60 miles per hour.

And that is the key formula for winning the EcoCar3 competition – building the car to meet or exceed the fun to drive character of the factory Camaro with the most increase in efficiency and reduction in emissions.

To make the grade, it has to be real-world feasible for a production car that people could actually afford and want. We will be following up with this project later this year with updates on the progress of team ASU’s EcoCar project vehicle.


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