SAN DIEGO - Students from Mississippi State University (MSU) placed first in the 2010 EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge finals in San Diego May 27 after designing and building a biodiesel extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).

MSU beat out 15 other universities to win first place in Year Two Finals of the three-year competition.  

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and General Motors, the competition challenges university engineering students from across North America to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety, and performance.

Virginia Tech earned second place with an ethanol-powered EREV design and Penn State came in third place building a biodiesel EREV vehicle.

During the second year of the EcoCAR competition, the teams utilized cutting-edge automotive engineering processes, such as Hardware in the Loop (HIL) simulation, to move their designs into the physical vehicles. Once the vehicles were built and rolled out of their respective Green Garages - or design and construction shops - they went through a series of safety and technical tests at GM's Desert Proving Grounds in Yuma, Ariz., similar to those conducted on production vehicles. Each of the cars was evaluated based on the ability to decrease fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and maintain consumer acceptability in the areas of performance, utility, and safety.

The Mississippi State EcoCAR team chose to design an EREV hybrid with a 21.3 kWh A123Systems battery pack, which provides an electric range of 60 miles and is equipped with a 1.3L GM turbodiesel engine and 75 kW UQM generator in a series plug-in configuration. During testing, the vehicle's fuel economy stood out, achieving 118 miles per gallon gas equivalent (combined city/highway cycle). In addition to the overall winner's award, Mississippi State won nine additional awards, including performance events in auto-cross and acceleration.

Addition information about the EcoCAR program is available at