Tesla 3 Making Waves in Automotive Industry

Photo Credit: EcoEagles / EcoEagles team poses for a picture with ERAU  intrim president and other College of Engineering leadership

Photo Credit: EcoEagles / EcoEagles team poses for a picture with ERAU intrim president and other College of Engineering leadership

J Clare Maloney/EcoEagles

The Tesla 3 is making waves in the automotive industry, but college students at the world’s most famous beach are engineering its rival: a hybrid
2016 Chevrolet Camaro.

Students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, calling themselves the EcoEagles, are re-engineering a stock 2016 Camaro into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle for the EcoCAR 3 competition.

Sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy, EcoCAR 3 pits 16 universities across North America against one another to re-engineer a stock 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid.

The teams started in June 2014 and have until June 2018 to design, manufacture, implement, and optimize their vehicles. With the end of Year 2 approaching in May 2016, all 16 teams will converge on the General Motors Desert Proving Ground in Yuma, Ariz.

The EcoEagles Camaro has two electric motors and a 4-cylinder E85 engine, which result in two modes: eco and sport mode. Throw in body panels from the Camaro SS and the 2016 Camaro Eco Super Sport (ESS) was born. And who’s the man leading the EcoEagles to Yuma? That would be Tom Gorgia, EcoEagles Engineering Manager, Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering, and five-year veteran of the team.

“Being able to work on a car, and a damn fast one at that, is more than I could have asked for while going to school,” Gorgia said. “With the progress we’ve made since we got the Camaro in December, we could win this year.”

Four months after receiving the Camaro, the EcoEagles were able to dismantle the vehicle, install new motors and engine, and get everything working in harmony by March 17. Even with a team of engineers, that is pretty fast.

Once testing is conducted and optimization is completed, all modes will be operational and the Camaro ESS could be compared to the Tesla Model 3.

The Camaro ESS will be capable of a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds and an estimated base price of $34,700, compared to the Model 3’s 0-60 mph time of under 6 seconds and base price of $35,000.

Eco mode provides 53 mpgge (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent) for when you’re cruising around town, waving at the trees, with only the two electric motors moving the wheels. Sport mode has both electric motors and the engine powering the rear wheels, allowing you to leave tire tread at any stop sign.

So if you don’t like the styling of the Tesla Model 3? Want to save a few hundred dollars and a higher baseline performance? Go for the Camaro ESS.

Facts: EcoCAR 3
– 4-year program sponsored by General Motors, Department of Energy, Argonne National Labs, and 32+ more sponsors
– EcoCAR 3 spans from 2014 to 2018.
– The vehicle platform is a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro
– The overall competition goal is to build and design a Camaro that has the expected performance from a Camaro with improved fuel economy and reduced emissions.
– 16 Universities across North America participate in EcoCAR 3.
– Currently the competition is in the second year of EcoCAR 3. It is the year in which teams are given their vehicles and build their designed cars. Year 3 and 4 are used to optimize the vehicle and get it to a showroom ready state.
– Each year teams travel with their vehicle to competition to compete in dynamic events such as skid pad, autocross, and energy consumption events. Professional presentations are also given and scored.

Facts: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University EcoCAR 3 Team
– The Embry-Riddle EcoCAR 3 team has been involved in EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge (2008 – 2011), EcoCAR 2: Plugging In to the Future (2011 – 2014), and EcoCAR 3: Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (2014 – 2018).
– The Embry-Riddle Camaro has been designated the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Eco Super Sport, or ESS.
– The vehicle powertrain consists of a 2.4L EcoTec engine running on E85, 2 Bosch IMG Electric motors, and GM 8-speed automatic transmission. The battery pack is an A123 350V and 18.9kWh lithium ion setup.

Camaro ESS stats:
– 60 mph in 4.9 seconds
– 53 mpgge (miles per gallon gasoline equivalent)
– 180 miles of total range electric range of 40 miles)
– The team has worked on obtaining team-specific sponsors and products that can improve the overall vehicle quality and design. These companies include K&N, Magnaflow, C&R racing, Pirelli Tires, BBS Wheels, FTE automotive, and Mothers Waxes and Cleaners.
– The team will also be conducting research on aerodynamic upgrades to benefit efficiency and performance.
– Students at Embry-Riddle conduct all engineering design, manufacturing, and implementationof automotive parts.
– In Year 1 of EcoCAR 3 the EcoEagles placed 4th place overall.
– EcoEagles have been working very hard to achieve 1st place in Year 2 of EcoCAR 3.