Challenge X Ends, EcoCar launches--into a fast-changing world

Just four years separate the new EcoCar Challenge from its predecessor, Challenge X--but can its student competitors stay ahead of the industry itself?

4 min read

For more on the last year of Challenge X, see Slideshow: 2008 Challenge X.

Four years ago, dozens of college students sat down at their workstations to design the vehicle of the future. The Challenge X competition was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and dozens of sponsors, including General Motors, which donated brand-new 2005 Chevrolet Equinoxes. The students made up 17 teams, all attempting to build a sport utility that used less petroleum and emitted fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases.

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We Need More Than Just Electric Vehicles

To decarbonize road transport we need to complement EVs with bikes, rail, city planning, and alternative energy

11 min read
A worker works on the frame of a car on an assembly line.

China has more EVs than any other country—but it also gets most of its electricity from coal.

VCG/Getty Images
Green

EVs have finally come of age. The total cost of purchasing and driving one—the cost of ownership—has fallen nearly to parity with a typical gasoline-fueled car. Scientists and engineers have extended the range of EVs by cramming ever more energy into their batteries, and vehicle-charging networks have expanded in many countries. In the United States, for example, there are more than 49,000 public charging stations, and it is now possible to drive an EV from New York to California using public charging networks.

With all this, consumers and policymakers alike are hopeful that society will soon greatly reduce its carbon emissions by replacing today’s cars with electric vehicles. Indeed, adopting electric vehicles will go a long way in helping to improve environmental outcomes. But EVs come with important weaknesses, and so people shouldn’t count on them alone to do the job, even for the transportation sector.

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