Georgia Tech Students Re-Engineer SUV With Improved Fuel Economy/Emissions Reduction

Team Enters National FutureTruck Competition Finals

More than ten days of intense competing are ahead for a team of Georgia Tech students as they submit a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) entry for the 2003 FutureTruck competition finals. FutureTruck challenges teams of students from 15 top North American university engineering departments to re-engineer a mid-size 2002 Ford Explorer to improve fuel economy and lower emissions while maintaining the safety, performance and comfort levels that have made them so popular.

The Georgia Tech SUV submission faces rigorous testing and evaluation, in areas such as acceleration and off-road performance events to determine which team will win the challenge. The students participated in the 2002 competition and are confident they'll exceed the 2003 goal of achieving 25 percent better over-the-road fuel economy in the SUV and significantly reduce overall emissions.

"This competition presents students with real-world design and engineering exercises and challenges them to produce real-world results," said professor Jerry Meisel, team advisor for the Georgia Tech team. "The students have worked really hard all year, and we are ready to take home first place."

The Georgia Tech truck incorporates a split-parallel design in which the motor is not directly coupled to the engine, as in a normal parallel hybrid. Instead, the engine drives the front wheels while the motor supplements that power by driving the rear wheels. Aggressive weight reduction methods are used to further increase the overall efficiency of the vehicle as well.

"Training young engineers to solve complex automotive engineering challenges is what this competition is all about," said Al Kammerer, Ford's Executive Director of Sport Utility Vehicles and Body on Frame. "FutureTruck provides the training ground for hundreds of student engineers to explore advanced vehicle technologies so they are better equipped to lead the automotive industry in the 21st Century."

Various judging events will take place at Ford's Michigan Proving Ground in Romeo and the Allen Park Testing Lab in Allen Park, Mich. The winning university team will be announced on June 12th as part of Ford's centennial celebration in Dearborn, Mich.

Ford Motor Company and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are the headline sponsors for the 2003 FutureTruck competition. Argonne National laboratory, a DOE R&D facility, provides competition management, technical and logistical support. More than 16 other government and industry sponsors also support the program.

Competing universities for FutureTruck 2003 are: Georgia Tech; California Polytechnic State University, San Louis Obispo; Cornell University; Michigan Technological University; The Ohio State University; Pennsylvania State University; Texas Tech University; University of Alberta; University of California, Davis; University of Idaho; University of Maryland; University of Tennessee; University of Wisconsin-Madison; Virginia Tech; and West Virginia University.