The team is subdivided into five groups, each responsible for a different system of the vehicle. The Mechanical and Drivetrain Groups primarily function to facilitate major changes in the structure and architecture of the vehicle; from frame redesign to adding an electric motor, they do it all. The Control and Electrical Groups are responsible for maintaining all of the vehicle computer and electrical components; they program the ECU and rewire the vehicle to accommodate they hybrid subsystems. The Outreach group publishes newsletters, maintains the website, and involve the team in community and regional events. Each of the individual group leaders coordinate projects, teach the new members, and take responsibility for their particular aspects of the vehicle's development.
The FutureCar Challenge became the team’s focus in 1995. Originally, the Future Cow (Dodge Intrepid) was used and took third place over all at the first year of competition. In the fall of 1997 the team change its focus to their third HEV, the Aluminum Cow (Mercury Sable). The Aluminum Cow then went on to win the next two competitions.
FutureTruck 2000 competition followed the FutureCar Challenge. It was a 5-year competition similar to the FutureCar Challenge series, but with new and bigger challenges. For the first 2 years of the competition the team built the "Moollennium" (Chevrolet Suburban) which took fourth place the first year and second place the second. For the last 3 years of the FutureTruck competition, the team redesigned a 2002 Ford Explorer into a hybrid SUV. Each year the team performed very well at competition, taking first place. The final year of the competition, the explorer finished with a 125 point lead over second place.
Challenge X is the newest competition that the team is currently undertaking. Different from FutureCar or FutureTruck, Challenge X focuses on the modeling and simulation aspect of design in the first year. The second and third years are similar though, where when the team passes the first year, they receive a Chevrolet Equinox to transform into a hybrid vehicle.
During the second year of the Challenge X competition, the team integrated the powertrain into the stock Equinox. Year two focused on powertrain development and demonstration of the energy use and emissions goals of the competition. This was accomplished by finalizing the control strategy developed in the first year of the competition and physically mounting the powertrain components into the vehicle. The Challenge X year two competition took place at the GM proving grounds in Mesa, AZ in June. Wisconsin took 2nd overall in points, highlighted with awards for the Dr. Donald Streit Sportsmanship Award, Best Engineering & Fabrication Workmanship Award, Outstanding Long-Term Faculty Advisor award, Best Technical Presentation, Best Vehicle Development Review, Best Acceleration, Most Improved Outreach Program, 3rd in Best Written Technical Reports, 1st place for Freescale Semiconductor: Silicon on the Move, and 3rd for Best realization of VTS.
During the third year of Challenge X, the UW-Madison hybrid vehicle team concentrated on tuning and perfecting the design of Moovada. Aside from slightly reducing the battery voltage to 288 volts; the powertrain components remained the same for this phase of the competition. To reach a 99% buyoff in year three, the team is concentrated on perfecting and remaking the exhaust and catalyst system, they also refined the controls system and repackaged the batteries. Both the interior and exterior were modified to reflect a more "consumer acceptable" vehicle. Testing and calibration was also done to assure the occupants a smooth and flawless vehicle ride quality. In year three, team vehicles were judged extensively in categories such as towing capacity, and consumer acceptability. Teams were also required to give technical oral presentations and submit an SAE-style technical paper.