Hybrid SUV takes second place in FutureTruck competition

June 18, 2003

A Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle rebuilt by UC Davis engineering students to run as a gas-electric hybrid has won second place in the national FutureTruck competition.

The results were announced June 12 in a ceremony in Dearborn, Mich., where the competition was held. The University of Wisconsin-Madison took first place overall. The UC Davis team also won a prize for Best Dynamic Handling and the Cisco Systems award for telematics.

"The competition went very well, there were a lot of competitive cars running," said team leader Dahlia Garas, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at UC Davis.

The UC Davis entry, "Yosemite," is a "plug-in" hybrid electric vehicle. It is designed to achieve fuel economy of about 30 miles per gallon with the same performance as a standard model Ford Explorer SUV. Batteries and electric motors power the vehicle during low-speed city driving.

A small, fuel-efficient gasoline engine powers the vehicle for extended highway driving and keeps the batteries charged. The vehicle also can be plugged into a domestic power outlet overnight to charge the batteries with off-peak electricity.

The UC Davis team won the competition in 2001 with a hybrid Chevrolet Suburban, "Sequoia." Major sponsors of the competition are the Ford Motor Company and the U.S. Department of Energy.

University of California - Davis

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