Students Designing Cars of the Future

Graduate and undergraduate engineering students at UC Davis have redesigned the fuel efficiency of a Ford Taurus so that it gets 60-65 miles per gallon. They will be loading the Taurus into a trailer at UC Davis on June 12 for the trip for a national competition beginning the week of June 17 in Detroit. UC Davis was one of 12 schools in the nation chosen to compete in the Future Car challenge, sponsored by the Department of Energy, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. "Our objective is to make a car with fewer mechanical parts and greater electronic complexity to get the same performance and maintain current cost," says Andy Frank, professor of mechanical engineering and project leader. "At the same time, we must meet California's zero-emission rules." The technology currently used by the auto companies is more complicated, with many more parts, says Frank, making fuel-efficient mid-size cars unaffordable. "We're trading electronic complexity for mechanical simplicity to get the same performance and cost."

Media Resources

Andy Fell, Research news (emphasis: biological and physical sciences, and engineering), 530-752-4533,