Every year Shell sponsors something they call the “Eco-Marathon,” which invites teams to build the most fuel efficient car possible in order to compete in a race where the goal is to use the least amount of fuel possible.
The team pictured won competitions in both 2006 and 2007 getting as high as 7,148 MPG. While the competitions and cars entered may seem a little silly, there is a lot to be learned from these vehicles. It’s certainly worth checking out the competition, and the 2008 Eco-Marathon will be held from May 22nd to May 24th in Europe. You can find the official Shell website here and look for news when that time rolls around.
Here’s what Shell says about the purpose of the competition:
To design and build a vehicle that will use the least fuel and produce the fewest emissions possible.
Conventional fuels such as diesel, petrol and LPG, as well as alternative fuels such as solar, electric, hydrogen and biomass can power the vehicles.
More after the break.
How do they manage such high mileage and why should I care?
This is where it gets a bit interesting. These cars usually don’t get such good mileage, but this type of competition often yields winners in the 1,000 MPG+ range, so it’s definitely worth looking into the design of these vehicles.
The first thing to notice is the size: these cars do everything to reduce the size of the vehicle, the engine, and the wheels. Bigger vehicles need to move more air and oftentimes require larger wheel, both things which create drag and kill vehicle mileage.
Also, it’s important to note how slippery these vehicles are. Besides being extremely small, they have an extremely low coefficient of drag, which is key to reducing fuel consumption.
Certainly and overly simplistic look at things, but suffice it to say that I hope these fantastic engineers (much smarter people than me!) make it into the auto industry and introduce some great ideas like we see on display here.
For more photos, videos, and podcasts, check out the Shell site here.
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