Photo courtesy of General Motors.

OVER THE NEXT couple of years, the University of Washington will house a little bit of Detroit. That’s because 40 grads and undergrads have thrown their Crescent wrenches into the ring for EcoCar2, a contest put on by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy. The Huskies will compete with 14 other schools to construct the best fully functional, supergreen vehicle prototype. In June, the UW students will receive a 2013 Malibu, which they’ll promptly dismantle. Their concept? A ride with two power sources: an electric motor that spins the back wheels until its battery runs out; and a ­diesel engine that takes over and spins the front wheels. While the diesel engine is running, the electric motor recharges off the rotation of the back wheels.

The competition will also pave the way for UW to become a leader in the field. Thanks to EcoCar2, a space that was once a classroom is now an advanced vehicle lab. “We’ve built a facility that’s capable of creating prototypes,” said mechanical engineering grad student Trevor Crain. “We hope to move UW in a direction where we’ll be creating sustainable vehicles for the future.”

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