Energy Department challenges students to wring more efficiency from EVs

GM is also taking part.

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Your future electric car might benefit from some schoolwork. The Energy Department has teamed with GM and MathWorks to launch an EcoCAR Electric Vehicle Challenge that asks student groups at 15 North American universities to develop more efficient EV technology. The will have students tinker with a Cadillac Lyriq over four years as they develop automation, connectivity and propulsion tech, and they can will win annual prizes based on their progress.

The teams are also expected to use a mix of connected car and sensor tech to enable sharing EV battery power with homes, "recreational uses" (think camping) and the electrical grid. GM is supplying the cars as part of a broader $6 million investment in the challenge.

EcoCAR kicks off this fall. The American universities are spread across the country and include major institutions like Ohio State University, the University of California Riverside and Virginia Tech. Canada's McMaster University and the University of Waterloo (BlackBerry's home turf) will also take part.

The challenge won't guarantee longer-range EVs. However, it does reflect the Biden administration's determination to make electric transportation viable, including support for American automakers, setting EV adoption targets and improving access to charging stations. If all goes well, EcoCAR might help ease the transition away from gas-powered cars.

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