U of Washington’s Biodiesel/Electric Hybrid Car

John Davis

washecocar1Talk about the best of both worlds – University of Washington students have designed and re-engineered a car to run on electricity AND biodiesel. This article from the Seattle Times says the team recently showed off the vehicle to a group of local elementary school students, who had lots of questions and seemed thoroughly impressed.

How much could you sell it for? How long did it take to make it? What’s that red button? What if it doesn’t work?

How did you get that big sticker on the car? Why is there a fire extinguisher inside?

What are those wires for?

Could it charge your phone?

“It’s fantastic,” said sixth-grader Asli Edey. “I think it’s going to be my dream car.”

The Malibu hybrid conversion is part of a collegiate competition, EcoCAR 2, sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. The UW is one of just 15 universities in the U.S. and Canada selected to participate.

The Malibu has two separate engines: the biodiesel engine in the front of the car, which drives the front wheels; and the 250-horsepower electric motor in the rear of the car, powered by an 800-pound battery pack.

The electric motor runs for about 40 to 50 miles, and the biodiesel-powered motor can carry it for longer or pump up the power when needed as it goes 0 mph to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds — about a second faster than a Malibu with a standard gasoline engine.

The car is being shipped to Michigan to be tested even more, and eventually GM will pick a winner in its EcoCAR 2 competition.

Biodiesel, Electric Vehicles, Research