Colorado State University Students Design, Build Zero-Emission Vehicle

FORT COLLINS — Students on Colorado State University’s Vehicle Innovation Team (CSU VIT) are designing, testing and assembling a vehicle that could change the future of the automotive industry – and fuel consumption across the planet. The innovative fuel cell hybrid vehicle uses no gasoline and produces zero emissions, and is set to compete head-to-head with other cars from around the nation.

On Thursday, April 25, CSU VIT will host a send-off event to showcase all of the hard work team members have done this year and to wish the car well before it heads to the EcoCAR 2 Year Two Final Competition in Yuma, Ariz. The event will be held 3:30-5 p.m. at the Oval on the CSU campus, Laurel and Howes Streets in Fort Collins, and is open to the public as well as CSU students, faculty and staff. Metered parking is available in the nearby Lory Student Center lot.

Steven Abt, interim dean for the College of Engineering, and EcoCAR 2 faculty advisor Thomas Bradley, will give opening remarks at the send-off event. Attendees can participate in rides, meet the team members, and learn more about the EcoCAR 2 competition. Drive Electric Northern Colorado (DENC), an initiative that was recently launched to bring more electric vehicles into Northern Colorado, will also participate in this event.

After the send-off, the car will be taken to the GM Desert Proving Ground in Yuma where it will be tested against the 14 other cars involved in the collegiate competition. Following this trial May 13-19, the vehicle will be taken to San Diego, where the team will complete the second portion of the competition May 19-23.

Shaped by the greatest design changes in the history of the automotive industry, EcoCAR 2 is a national three-year competition that challenges 15 universities across North America to reduce the environmental impact of a Chevrolet Malibu without compromising performance, safety and consumer acceptability. CSU VIT has used a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, donated by General Motors, as the integration platform for their FCPHEV design.

Vehicle Architecture, Team Background, and the EcoCAR 2 National Competition

The vehicle, a Fuel Cell Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (FCPHEV) operates on a combination of compressed hydrogen gas and electricity and uses no gasoline. The vehicle’s only emission is clean water that is produced by a reaction between fuel cells, hydrogen, oxygen and electricity for propulsion. The combination of hydrogen gas and electricity allows consumers to either charge their vehicle at home or work for short daily commutes (up to 50 miles) or fill up on hydrogen for long trips (200 miles or more). 

The team, consisting of 40 Colorado State University faculty and undergraduate and graduate students, is designing and building the car as part of EcoCAR 2. Sponsored by General Motors and the United States Department of Energy, EcoCAR 2 requires students to explore a variety of powertrain architectures focusing on electric drive vehicle technology.

“The US Department of Energy, General Motors and CSU have made great investments in these students and it is beginning to really pay off,” said Thomas Bradley, faculty advisor for the team. “The innovative designs, outstanding teamwork, and hard work that these students are demonstrating are what make this project an educational and technical success.”

Sponsors for EcoCAR 2 include Colorado State University and the VIT, the U.S. Department of Energy, GM, DENC, and Northern Colorado Clean Cities.

For further Information contact Emily Keats, 630-687-3877,