TU students to convert a GM SUV into a fuel efficient ' hybrid'

Wednesday, August 24th 2005, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

Some University of Tulsa students plan to dismantle an SUV, and reassemble it as a more fuel efficient "hybrid". They got a jump on the project with a donation that will give them real world experience.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says Chris Flory is a senior at the University of Tulsa with a big project on his hands. He's helping GM make more efficient cars and trucks.

Flory and a team of students turned a car into a hybrid gasoline and electric, and next they'll convert a Chevrolet Equinox.

GM gave it to the school for the experiment. Chris Flory: "And what we'll do is change it over, we know that diesel is much more efficient than gasoline and a manual transmission is better than an automatic."

Getting the new vehicle from GM is a coup for TU, but the students got it because of the success they've already had. The TU has spent the last few years working on alternative fuel vehicles - ones that will get better mileage and be easier on the environment.

Professor Christi Patton, who has been working on the project, says the students started with computer models and now they'll get to try it on the real thing. "Customer might not be emotionally ready to buy this kind of vehicle, but with gas prices going up the way they are, I think it won't be long until they are ready."

It will take a full year to rebuild the car, but TU hopes to take it to a national competition - and win again - next summer. TU has 40 students working on the project. They'll test out their re-engineered vehicle at a GM proving ground in Phoenix when it's done.