As part of a program sponsored by the US Department of Energy, a team of students from the University of Washington is engineering a design will convert a conventional 2013 Chevy Malibu into a plug-in hybrid also capable of running on biodiesel.
According to Biodiesel Magazine, the program — titled EcoCAR2 — kicked off in mid-April 2011. Sixteen teams from across the country were selected to participate in the competition, which is co-sponsored by General Motors. According to UW’s EcoCar2 team leader Trevor Crain, the challenge requires that the Malibu (donated by GM) becomes not only a plug-in hybrid but successfully runs on biodiesel B20, E10, E85, hydrogen or grid-sourced electricity.
By choosing biodiesel, the team hopes to convey that diesel engines can be highly efficient and clean — and while Crain’s team of 50+ students would like to fill the car with a high-blend biodiesel, program regulations cap the blend at B20. Propel Fuels, which operates several biodiesel retail locations in the greater Seattle area, will provide the fuel.
Spanning three years total, the EcoCAR2 competition begins with a year-long design phase, after which the vehicle will be delivered for actual modification and conversion.