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Energy Systems Division

Advanced Vehicle Competitions

Training future engineers and automotive leaders and accelerating the development and demonstration of new technologies

For more than 25 years, the U.S. Department of Energy has sponsored Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) in partnership with the North American automotive industry. Managed by Argonne National Laboratory, AVTCs represent a unique coalition of government, industry and academic partners who join forces to execute North America’s premier collegiate automotive engineering competitions. AVTCs provide a challenging, real-world training ground for North America’s future engineers and automotive leaders and accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies of interest to the U.S. Department of Energy and the automotive industry.

Featuring opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines including engineering, business, program management and communications, these competitions challenge students way beyond the traditional classroom environment. Students re-engineer a donated production vehicle to improve energy efficiency and to meet the toughest emissions standards, while maintaining the features that make it attractive to the customer: performance, consumer acceptability, safety and cost.  Students incorporate advanced powertrains and alternative fuels as well as their own innovative technologies to maximize their vehicle efficiency and performance results. Students apply their theoretical knowledge to solve not only complex engineering challenges, they also learn valuable leadership and project management skills, as well as public relations, marketing and business development.

More than 16,500 students from 91 educational institutions in North America have participated, gaining real-world, hands-on experience tackling the challenges associated with building fuel-efficient vehicles since 1988. Current and previous competitions include:

  • EcoCAR 3: An Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (20142018)
  • EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future (20112014)
  • EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge (20082011)
  • Challenge X: Cross to Sustainable Mobility (20042008)
  • FutureTruck (19992004)
  • Ethanol Vehicle Challenge (19972000)
  • FutureCar Challenge (19951999)
  • Propane Vehicle Challenge (9951997)
  • HEV Challenge (19921995)
  • Natural Gas Vehicle Challenge (19901993)
  • Methanol Marathon (19881990)


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