The Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT) of Virginia Tech is participating in the 2011-2014 EcoCAR 2 competition in which the team is tasked with re-engineering the powertrain of a GM donated vehicle. The primary goals of the competition are to reduce well to wheels (WTW) petroleum energy use (PEU) and reduce WTW greenhouse gas (GHG) and criteria emissions while maintaining performance, safety, and consumer acceptability. To meet these goals HEVT has designed a series parallel plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with multiple modes of operation. This paper will first cover development of the control system architecture with a dual CAN bus structure to meet the requirements of the vehicle architecture. Next an online optimization control strategy to minimize fuel consumption will be developed. A simple vehicle plant model will then be used for software-in-the-loop (SIL) testing to improve fuel economy. A more detailed plant model will then be developed for hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing. Use of HIL testing to improve performance and validate safety critical functions of the control strategy will be demonstrated. The end product of this design study will be a control system that has reached a high level of parameter optimization and validation ready for on-road testing in a vehicle.