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Since 1987, the U.S. Department of Energy has sponsored more than 45 Advanced Vehicle Technology Competitions (AVTCs) t hrough Argonne National Laboratory. These competitions represent a unique coalition of government, industry, and academic partners who join forces to explore sustainable vehicle solutions. Argonne organizes and operates these competitions to accelerate the development and demonstration of technologies of interest to the DOE and the automotive industry, provide the automotive industry with a new generation of engineering leaders with highly desirable experience, and help prepare the market to accept advanced vehicle technologies.

EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge follows the successful student engineering competition,“Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility", also sponsored by GM and the U.S. Department of Energy, along with other government, automotive and technology industry partners. The Challenge X student engineering competition, which began in 2004 and concluded in May 2008, includes 16 North American universities, which have re-engineered a Chevrolet Equinox with alternative propulsion systems to improve fuel economy and reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions.