EcoCAR’s Consumer Campaign at Georgia Tech’s 14th Annual Earth Day Celebration!

Date: April 22, 2011

About the Event:The Consumer Campaign is designed to raise awareness of alternative fuel vehicles and our team’s specific vehicle architecture. We have chosen the 14th Annual Earth Day Celebration on Georgia Tech’s campus as the stage to host our Consumer Campaign. Georgia Tech anticipates more than 3,000 people on April 22, securing it as one of the largest Earth Day events in the southeast.


EPA Spring Workshop Coming Up!

For nearly three years, the 16 EcoCAR teams have been designing, building and perfecting their vehicles. The Spring Workshop at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, MI is right around the corner and marks the first significant Year Three milestone and a prime opportunity for the teams to showcase their commitment, vehicle achievement and promising futures.

GT EcoCAR is in Group A:   March 6 – March 14

Check the Facebook Page:  GT EcoCAR Team for up to date action during the workshop!

Garage Pictures : EPA Prep

GT EcoCAR Electrical Group and Mechanical Group got together and worked from Thursday 3:00pm until Friday 3:00am preparing the vehicle for the EPA inspection. Unfortunately we had an incident where the input shaft snapped off in our 2-Mode transmission during testing. This requires us to replace the entire transmission. We are scheduled to receive the new transmission from GM on this Friday.

We plan to ship the car on next week Tuesday for the EPA workshop. It’s going to be tight!

New Vehicle Wrap for the EcoCAR!

Georgia Tech EcoCAR team is proud to reveal our new vehicle wrap. White lightning is now in Gold and Black color!

Troubleshooting Report: Our EcoCAR comes back to life.

by Scott Paik, Electrical Group Leader

For the last couple of weeks, Carlos, Masahiro, and I have been giving up our sleep getting the car back to life. Two weeks ago, electrical group members moved the ECM into the new location where it would have less vibration, less wire clutter, and less abrasion on the wiring conduit. The work seemed innocuous initially, as this only involved taking out the ECM, modifying the bracket, and putting the ECM back into the new location. When we plugged the connectors back into the ECM and powered up the 12V disconnect, the 15A ECM/TCM fuse popped instantaneously. In addition, our CAN communication and accessory power were lost.

We suspected that this could be a wiring issue. For last two weeks, we stripped the conduits off the wiring harness, inspected every single wiring going into the ECM, checked continuity in every single pinout of the ECM connectors, and reviewed the specification to see if there’s any feature in ECM which would trigger this. We also had the ECM shipped to GM for an inspection, and GM mentors told us that there is no problem with our ECM.

This Wednesday, we had our regular electrical group meeting. Our group was sitting in the office inspecting the new connectors GM shipped us, and I was outside in a garage making a final inspection on the wiring harness. I saw Carlos running towards me with his laptop. He opened his laptop and pointed at the schematic picture.

“do you see something weird here?”
“what is it?”
“look at the connector”
“oh no. no way.”

I still can’t get over it. The J1 connector was plugged in the wrong direction! Behind the pile of engineering documentations we were caught off guard. It seems that we have been taking for granted that the connectors cannot be plugged in upside down. Still hard to believe the problem was holding us back for two weeks.

While eating our victory dinner, Carlos told me that he can picture himself as a senior engineer, looking over at the young engineers stripping the car to troubleshoot an electrical problem. Calmly, he asked them; “have you checked if your connector was plugged in correctly?”

Below is the video of our car now running great around the 14th street parking lot. We will resume working on preparing the car for the EPA workshop in March.

EcoCAR 2: Plugging In To the Future Update

by John P Arata, Mechanical Group Leader

The Georgia Tech EcoCAR Team looks forward to applying our breadth and depth of interdisciplinary expertise, our student and faculty talent, and our well-equipped labs and infrastructure to excelling in the next EcoCAR Challenge.  Our proposed EcoCAR 2 effort will address the critical issue of transportation sustainability, and in doing so, will strengthen our research and education thrusts in the area of electrified vehicles.

In the official EcoCAR 2 proposal, we conceptually designed a plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle (PHEV) based on a multi-mode electrically variable transmission (EVT) coupled to a diesel internal combustion engine (ICE).  Based on PSAT simulations, this vehicle will enable over 90 km of all-electric range in a midsize sedan, easily accommodating the average Atlanta commute of 60 km.  The ICE will operate primarily in a series, range-extending mode, and our fuel choice will be B20 diesel.  Parallel operation also will also be permitted, and used at high speeds and low states of charge (SOC) where mechanical efficiency is paramount.  B20 was selected because it is advantageous in both the emissions and fuel consumption simulation estimates.  The proposed vehicle is projected to consume 54.6 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (MPGGE) and reduce net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 36.3% over a conventionally-propelled gas vehicle.

We also proposed to further promote efficient operation by a novel supervisory control strategy based on consumer-friendly user-input about the expected driving route.  This information would be obtained through the vehicle in-dash computer and optimized with global positioning data.

If you are interested in the joining the Georgia Tech EcoCAR 2 effort, contact the current Mechanical Team Lead John Arata at

Design Review: New Engine Air Intake

by John P Arata, Mechanical Group Leader

Cold air intake maximizes engine efficiency. In order to maximize our vehicle fuel economy and consumer viability, this semester the Georgia Tech team will be designing a new engine air intake system. As it stands it looks like there are two steps to this process:

1) Finding a good home for the filter (out of the way and secured because as of now it is dangling) and creating a fixture to hold it there
2) Design a helmholtz resonator to gaurantee the air input into the engine does not resonante

Air is pulsed into the engine as the injectors fire, it is not constant air flow into the engine especially as engine RPM varies. At different engine RPMs, this air flow has different characteristics. Depending on the design of the intake, the air delivery system has a certain resonance frequency. The ultimate goal is designing an intake that will not resonate at any of the operational engine RPMs. Just like blowing over the top of a Coke bottle, certain harmonics resonante in certain containers. An intake system that resonates at particular engine RPMs is not consumer viable. Helmholtz resonators eliminate, if designed correctly, these resonant frequencies through damping. The team is actively moving forward on this project and looking forward to using computational methods to solve a real-world problem.


Picture from UCLA Physics Lab website :

Passing the Torch

In our end of year team and recruiting meeting in December, our team member Ryan Melsert was recognized for all his great work in leading our team through the first two years of the competition as our Team Leader. If it weren’t for Ryan, there wouldn’t have been a Georgia Tech EcoCAR team as he basically was the person that made the point of trying to get Georgia Tech involved and had to gather all the necessary resources to help us get accepted into the competition. Things were not easy, but Ryan pulled us through and shared with us his expert knowledge, always being a great advocate of green energies. As one steps down, another has to rise and carry on because this competition is not over yet. Carlos A. Cubero has been our team’s Controls Group Leader and has tackled the development of the control systems in our team’s vehicle. As he has learned and helped us in getting our vehicle to run, he now has the added responsibility of taking the torch and leading our team into victory during the last six months of the EcoCAR competition. Thank you so much Ryan and Godspeed Carlos!

Jan. 2011 – Control Development Update

by Carlos A Cubero-Ponce, Controls Group Leader.

A lot of exciting work has been done on the control system of our car. We have been able to drive our vehicle for a couple of months now and we’ve made improvements on the drive quality, by updating the accelerator pedal mapping in accordance with AVL drive quality recommendations. We’ve also had many joint conference calls with GM and other 2Mode teams to share ideas and help resolve issues that we’ve encountered in getting the maximum capabilities out of our transmission. Currently we are in the progress of testing driving in EVT2, the second hybrid mode available in our transmission, and we are hoping to solve our issues with keeping the engine off for electric only operation withing the next couple of weeks. We also expect to add more refinements in our control strategy to boost our performance in preparation for the Winter Workshop.

Creating the Green Consumers of Tomorrow!

On November 17th 2010, two members of the Outreach team visited Creekside Middle School in Georgia. We were very excited to be greeted with such happy 8th grade faces. We taught five periods of 8th grade Life Sciences. We were able to teach them about alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. The highlight of the visit for the students was the competitive activity that we had planned for them after the presentation. We challenged the class with developing an alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicle and coming up with a magazine advertisement for their consumer campaign. The students had to pick between e85, gas/electric hybrid, full electric and hydrogen fuel cell energy sources.  The teams were able to pick the car type, size and interior features. They were challenged with keeping price and consumer appeal in mind. The team were given 25 minutes to draw a magazine ad and 2 minutes to present their ad and their car to the class. The team that received the most votes for their ad was the winner of the class. The award was a chance to visit our EcoCAR Garage on Georgia Tech Campus. We were absolutely drained by time we left the school at the end of the day but we believed that we help create the green-consumers of tomorrow!