It is not every day that you hear of a car manufacturer donating a new vehicle for college students to completely reconfigure. Tell car enthusiasts it is a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro and they will cringe.
But this is the case for the University of Alabama’s EcoCar3 Team that unveiled their Camaro at Tuscaloosa Chevrolet Jan. 5.
“I see this beautiful car and all I can think is, ‘We are about to totally mess this up,’” said Paulius Puzinauskas, EcoCar3 Team adviser and associate professor of mechanical engineering.
As part of the Advanced Vehicle Technology EcoCar3 competition, the team is tasked with turning the Camaro into an energy-efficient hybrid that still maintains the speed and performance of a muscle car.
“We have been challenged to redesign the vehicle to reduce its environmental impact and increase fuel efficiency, all without compromising the consumer standards that Americans expect from this car,” said UA’s EcoCar3 Team Project Manager Kaylie Crosby.
After 18 months of meeting, strategizing and developing, the team is finally able to put its hard work into play with the arrival of the vehicle.
“Sitting behind a computer screen or a notepad can get tedious,” said Innovations Subteam Leader A.J. Hamby. “It is nice to be able to get our hands on some actual parts and start to see some of that hard work come to life.”
Hamby said their plans to make the vehicle more energy efficient include ramping up its horsepower.
“This will allow us to have about a 60-mile range of electric drive without using the engine at all,” Hamby said. “And even when the electric charge depletes, it will still run more efficiently than a regular car at about 50 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent.”
The students work is evaluated yearly, before a final evaluation at the end of the competition.
“We are one of 16 North American universities chosen to compete in this prestigious competition,” Crosby said.
About 150 undergraduate and graduate students from eight disciplines make up UA’s team.
“Students ranging from majors such as public relations to engineering to business management and marketing, we have some finance students, it is really like a mini General Motors headquarters on UA’s campus,” said Communications Manager Brittany Galloway.
Work on the car will begin when students return to campus next week.
“We have an aggressive schedule planned before our next evaluation in April,” said Crosby. “But we have prepped for this and I know we can do it.”