The Wayne State EcoCAR 2 Team is fortunate to have the help and involvement of all the sponsors, at both the competition-level and team level. But for one situation we encountered, it took the expertise of General Motors to help the team isolate and solve the problem.
During the design process, WSU engineers found that the transition between electric and internal combustion drivetrains would be troublesome without some deep thought and ingenuity. The problem was that shifting from one drivetrain to the other needed to be controlled electronically, but the control for the E-85 engine’s transmission is mechanical, negating the option for electronic control as the system was configured.
The team contacted their GM Mentor, Chris Trush, for advice. Chris listened carefully to the questions of the team, and took the problem to his colleagues at General Motors. After much discussion and consultation, an answer was found. The system would employ the WSU electronic control unit (ECU) to act as a gateway between the transmission shift lever sensor and the transmission control unit in order to control the transmission range state and command neutral when the vehicle is transitioning to or from all electric drive operation.
The significance of this problem and solution was important not only to the WSU team, but to the other EcoCAR 2 teams using the Parallel-Through-The-Road design. General Motors was able to put together a presentation to distribute to all the team addressing this obstacle, and overcome a road block that affected all of them.
With this issue resolved, WSU and the other teams can move forward on their quest to produce the best hybrid design in the competition.