The Chevrolet Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro

Can an American muscle car be redesigned to be more efficient, while still providing drivers the same performance, appeal and safety they expect from such an iconic car?

That’s the challenge for student innovators taking part in EcoCAR 3, a four year automotive engineering competition for US college students that is running until 2018.

The car in question is a Chevrolet Camaro provided by competition sponsors, General Motors. The Camaro is not known for its fuel sipping qualities so it is a big ask to turn this 22mpg V6 muscle car into the ultimate energy-efficient, high performance vehicle.

This struggle between performance and economy could not be more topical for the motor industry, with carmakers trying to improve the efficiency of their fleet, explore new powertrains and alternative fuels, while still building a car that consumers will desire and enjoy driving.  The focus is not just on humble hatchbacks and daily runarounds – performance cars need to get more efficient too.

Retaining the Camaro’s signature body design, the student teams from 16 US colleges must work on developing new energy efficient powertrains that maximize performance, reducing weight and improving aerodynamics, and incorporating alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies that will lower greenhouse gas and exhaust emissions.

The snag is that they must keep costs in consideration and be innovative, while also delivering a vehicle that is still good to drive and will satisfy the needs of the Camaro buyer in terms of performance, utility and safety.

Caroline Kidd