The Virginia team beat fifteen other college entries from the United States and Canada by building an extended range electric vehicle, specifically by modifying a Chevy CUV donated by GM that was altered to use ethanol while equipped with a 123 volt battery system. Calling the hybrid the VT-REX, the students were able to upgraded the vehicle to have a stated fuel economy equivalent to 82 miles per gallon.
There are a series of technical reports available on the Virginia Tech website for those interested in the science behind the vehicle modification. Likewise, runners-up Ohio State University have specifications about their design, also an ethanol hybrid. And finally, the University of Waterloo came in third place with their hydrogen fuel cell car, which is also a plug-in hybrid.
Almost $100,000 was awards to the top six teams, and a full list of the qualifications are available on the EcoCAR website. If you’re really enamored with the project, there’s even an entire blog dedicated to the challenge, complete with videos of the students who worked on the vehicles.