The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech, better known as HEVT, is a nationally recognized undergraduate student design team in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. HEVT was formed in 1994 to compete in the 1995 Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Challenge, one of the many competitions sponsored by the PNGV. Since finishing in fifth out of twelve that year, HEVT has competed in many similar student design competitions each year. Such competitions include the FutureCar Challenge, a four year series of competitions held from 1996 to 1999, where the team received two first place awards and two second place awards.



Virginia Tech’s HEVT placed first in the 1996 challenge held in Detroit. Also awarded to HEVT in 1996 were awards for best workmanship, most energy efficient vehicle, lowest regulated tailpipe emissions, best use of alternative fuels, and overall best dynamic handling. The 1996 vehicle was based on a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina, donated through PNGV, which utilized General Electric electric motor, a three cylinder Geo Metro engine, and a large batter pack. The vehicle, whose engine ran off propane, could go 600 miles without refueling while getting between 40 and 50 mpgge (Crumbley 1996).

HEVT placed second in the 1997 competition (UW 1997).

HEVT tied for first place during the 1998 FutureCar Challenge (Launey 1998). Also awarded to HEVT in the 1998 challenge were best consumer acceptability, best vehicle design inspection, best acceleration, best dynamic handling, best overall engineering design, and best solo autocross (ECE News 1998).

During the 1999 FutureCar Challenge, HEVT’s entry became the first vehicle during the competition series to operate as a functional hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, at the time the vehicle was considered to be one of only a handful of operable fuel cell vehicles in the world (Lypen 1999). The fuel cell used in the vehicle was provided by the U.S. Department of Defense and carried a price tag of $250,000 USD (VT Magazine 1999). This 1999 entry was based on a 1998 Chevrolet Lumina and was designed as a series hybrid operating with the hydrogen fuel cell, a custom built lead acid battery, and an AC induction motor drivetrain. HEVT placed second in the 1999 competition.


After the 1999 competition series ended, the FutureCar program was replaced with the FutureTruck program. The FutureTruck program was created to address the environmental and energy related issues created by the increased demand of SUV’s in the United States. Fifteen engineering schools from across North America were accepted as the participants in this five-year engineering program. The goal of the competition was to re-engineer a popular SUV to a lower emissions vehicle which would also have an increase of at least 25% in its fuel economy. Each entrant vehicle also was required to meet safety, performance, and utility goals. Main sponsors of the FurtureTruck program include the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Efficiency and Renewable Energy, General Motors, and the Ford Motor Company. The program was managed by Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Transportation Research (FutureTruck).

HEVT had only five months to complete the conversion of their 2000 FutureTruck entry vehicle based on a stock Chevy Suburban. This entry from Virginia Tech won first place at the 2000 competition which began on June 7, 2000. The 2000 FutureTruck competition was held at the General Motors Desert Proving Grounds in Mesa, Arizona.

During the 2002 competition, HEVT was awarded the MathWorks Teamwork & Leadership Award.

During the 2003 competition, HEVT was awarded the Spirit of the Challenge Award, and also received a third place award in the National Instruments Most Innovative Use of Virtual Instrumentation category.


Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility is a design competition currently in operation under the FreedomCar and Vehicle Technologies Program as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Educational Activities.

HEVT placed Forth in the first year of the Challenge X competition series (Sharp).

In the second year of the Challenge X competition, HEVT was the first place team (Gurski). Virginia Tech’s competition entry, the REVLSE (Renewable Energy Vehicle, the Larsen Special Edition) is a split parallel hybrid using a Ballard Ranger 67 kW ACI rear traction motor, an 8 kW MES belted alternator starter, and a Saab 2.0 L Flex Fuel SI engine running on E85 – an ethanol/gas blend. Virginia Tech also won first place in lowest well-to-wheels petroleum energy usage, with an overall reduction of petroleum consumption of 74 percent over the stock vehicle, best written technical reports, lowest regulated tailpipe emissions, and lowest time braking and handling (Challenge X).


The main facilities for HEVT are located on the Virginia Tech campus in the Ware Lab. HEVT consistently participates in industry sponsored design events and is committed to the development and implementation of advanced vehicle technologies leading to green transportation. The team is currently competing in year three of Challenge X, with the year end competition to be held in Detroit, Michigan.


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