When enthusiasts consider Chevrolet's Camaro, classic designs, tire-shredding burnouts, and track-tuned Z/28s spring to readily to mind.
Green technology? Not so much.
But the Department of Energy and partner General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] have made the iconic piece of American iron the focus of its EcoCAR 3 competition, which is challenging students from 16 universities to preserve the model's robust persona while incorporating hybrid-electric powertrains—using the sixth-generation 2016 Chevrolet Camaro as the platform.
Obviously, we know it can be done. While their combined cost might eclipse a small nation's GDP, the Porsche 918 Spyder, Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1 all use the technology, and the future of performance cars will depend in part on the ability of manufacturers to make ever increasing strides to increase efficiency and decrease emissions.
Or, as Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser says in the video, "If we want to keep making V-8 Camaros, we're going to have to look at alternative methods of propulsion."
For engineering students, the program offers the opportunity to get to use some of the industry's newest technology—like sophisticated software and cutting-edge powertrain components—while presenting them with real-world problems like cost constraints. Given that these skills will transfer directly to the workforce, this is a win-win for both the undergrads and the companies which will eventually employ them.
In the meantime, it'll be interesting to see what developments arise from the competition. Stay tuned.