McMaster University is among two Canadian institutions competing in a North American competition to improve the energy efficiency and safety of an SUV.

Announced last week, the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge is the latest Advanced Vehicle Technology Competition (AVTC) and is headline sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), General Motors (GM), and MathWorks, and managed by Argonne National Laboratory. 

EcoCAR is a collegiate automotive engineering competition aimed at developing a highly skilled workforce by providing hands-on experience designing and building the next generation mobility solutions to meet our nation’s future energy and mobility challenges.

EcoCAR teams will participate in a four-year competition that will challenge them to re-engineer a 2019 Chevrolet Blazer to incorporate advanced propulsion systems, electrification, and connected and automated vehicle technology that will improve the energy efficiency, safety and consumer appeal of vehicles, specifically for the carsharing market.

The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge tasks 12 North American universities, including McMaster, to apply advanced propulsion systems, electrification, SAE Level 2 automation and vehicle connectivity to improve the energy efficiency of the Blazer – all while balancing factors such as emissions, safety and consumer acceptability. 

“We are very pleased and excited to participate as one of the only 12 university teams in the EcoCAR Mobility Challenge,” said Professor Ali Emadi, Lead Faculty Advisor, McMaster Engineering EcoCAR Mobility Challenge Program. “I believe EcoCAR is the excellent collegiate automotive engineering competition for our research-focused student-centered approach at McMaster University.” 

Teams will use onboard sensors and wireless communication from the vehicle’s surrounding environment to improve overall operation in the connected urban environment of the future.  The team’s vehicles will include automated functions, like acceleration and steering, and assumes the driver remains engaged with the driving task and monitoring the environment at all times.

In addition, EcoCAR teams will use Model-Based Design, a mathematical and visual design approach using MATLAB and Simulink already widely adopted in the automotive industry. This assists teams in quickly and cost-effectively mange projects, collaborate on designs and develop complex embedded systems.

More than 1,000 students from the 12 North American universities will participate each year, gaining real-world experience solving complex engineering challenges and building teamwork and leadership skills that they will take with them into their future careers. 

EcoCAR Mobility Challenge launched in September 2018 and will conclude in 2022.

More information is available at as well as details about the history of AVTCs and previous competitions.

McMaster University competed in the previous EcoCAR 3 challenge, which asked teams to re-engineer a Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid-electric vehicle while maintaining the muscle and performance associated with the iconic ‘Camaro’ marque. More than 100 students were involved with the project annually.


The 12 university teams participating in The EcoCAR Mobility Challenge are:

  • Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colo.)
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Ga.)
  • McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
  • Mississippi State University (Starkville, Miss.)
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio)
  • University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Knoxville, Tenn.)
  • University of Washington (Seattle)
  • University of Waterloo (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.)
  • West Virginia University (Morgantown, W.Va.)

Source: McMaster to participate in major North-American automotive competition