UT students redesign car for national competition

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT)-- The Department of Energy and General Motors challenged 15 universities in North American to take a stock 2013 Chevrolet Malibu and make it eco-friendly.

It's all a part of a three-year collegiate engineering competition called EcoCAR 2; General Motors donates the materials and the students go to work.

Last year, the students designed the new features of the car to make it more efficent. This year, they're in the implementable stage where they put their design to the test at General Motors Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

"Our vehicle is improved over the stock Malibu 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 34 miles on electric power. The best plug-in hybrid cars on the market can drive up to 40 and those were made in a factory, not by students."

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 and winners receive cash prizes.

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