Slideshow: 2008 Challenge X

The last year for Challenge X proved exciting for competitors and observers alike

Photo: Roy Feldman/Challenge X

EYE CANDY

A dozen cars in a tight row is always striking, but when each multicolored SUV represents years of work by a university team, the image is undeniably impressive. Each student group competing in the four-year Challenge X had modified its Chevrolet Equinox to lower its emissions, reduce fuel consumption, and lessen its greenhouse-gas impact.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: Roy Feldman/Challenge X

WINNERS

Amid heartfelt applause, the first-place winner for two years running, from Mississippi State University, drives up to the dais for the team to receive its 2008 award. The other contenders and the organizers know just how hard every team had to work to make it through four years of competition.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: Roy Feldman/Challenge X

BIODIESEL BEAST

The University of Wisconsin team built a hybrid-electric power train around a direct-injection turbocharged diesel engine. The team powered theirs with B20 biodiesel fuel for added greenhouse-gas reductions.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: Emile Wamsteker/GM News Photo/Challenge X

BUCKEYE BARNSTORMER

Ohio State University’s entry navigates an autocross course during testing at a New Jersey racetrack. Team members John Kruckenberg and Karem Bayer were notably proud that their entry had logged the fastest time around the course of any entry.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: John Voelcker

AUTOGRAPHED ENGINE

Part of the competition required making the modifications look as ”factory” as possible, including under the hood. If you ignored the university logos, you might not realize that Ohio State had replaced the original gasoline V6 in its Equinox with a 1.9-liter turbocharged direct-injection diesel from GM’s European operations. The signatures were added by celebrity athletes who viewed the cars along the route.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: Roy Feldman/Challenge X

FUEL CELL WONDER

The University of Waterloo took by far the most audacious approach. They dispensed with an internal-combustion engine altogether and powered their entry with a 65-kilowatt fuel cell. A tank of compressed hydrogen in the load bay fed the fuel cell, which drove two electric transaxles, assisted by a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack to store regenerated energy.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: Roy Feldman/Challenge X

BIG H TANK

That hydrogen tank, however, cost the Waterloo team substantial points for its size. This is the former load bay of their SUV, now entirely occupied by the pressure tank, neatly finished with an exterior shield. Not a lot of room for bikes or soccer gear, though.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: John Voelcker

IEEE IN THE HOUSE

IEEE student members at San Diego State University proudly flaunted their affiliation, along with stickers from sponsors and other donors who’d helped the team. Like Wisconsin, the SDSU team built a 1.9-liter diesel hybrid-electric power train and powered it with B20 biodiesel.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: John Voelcker

GETTING A BOOST

Once in a while, getting the vehicles started proved challenging. Here at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the SDSU team gets a last-minute battery charge from one of several breakdown trucks and other support vehicles that closely tracked the contenders as they traveled.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: John Voelcker

TAILGATE PARTY

On the road between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., the Ohio State entry closely follows the University of Texas at Austin’s sport utility. It rained for most of that trip, adding extra stress to the challenge of driving a highly experimental and handcrafted vehicle at speed, in close formation, and on unfamiliar public roads.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: John Voelcker

NICE DETAIL

If you have to add hydrogen fueling to your vehicle—in this case, the entry from the University of Tulsa team, of Oklahoma—how better to make it look standard than to use a second factory fuel door next to the first one?

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

Photo: Roy Feldman/EcoCar

ECOCAR COMING SOON

Just as Challenge X wound to a close, the next competition launched. Starting this summer, 17 university teams from the United States and Canada will compete in the ”EcoCar Challenge,” modifying a Saturn Vue sport utility (also sold in Europe as an Opel Antara and a Vauxhall Antara). The teams’ vehicles will first compete head to head in the spring or summer of 2010.

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches—into a fast-changing world

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