HOUSTON, Tex.—A team of students from the Université Laval travelled 3,587 miles on a single gallon of gas this past weekend, winning the seventh Shell Eco-marathon Americas.
From April 5 to 7, thousands of students from Canada, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States brought a total of 131 concept cars to Houston, Tex., to compete on fuel efficiency.
Vehicles were divided into two categories, Prototype or UrbanConcept. The Prototype category focuses on “futuristic” vehicles, while cars competing as UrbanConcept are more practical and “road worthy.”
While the mileage attained by the Université Laval’s prototype internal combustion vehicle set a new record for the Eco-marathon Americas, it didn’t come close to beating the all-time record of 8,814 miles-per-gallon (mpg) achieved by a team from France in 2003. Shell also runs yearly Eco-Marathons in Europe and Asia.
“What the Laval team accomplished is truly remarkable and it underscores the long way our own cars and trucks can go to improve their fuel efficiency,” said Mark Singer, global project manager of Shell Eco-marathon.
“Each year, dedicated high school and university student teams astonish us with the advances they make in achieving unheard-of fuel efficiency improvements.”
In 2012 the Laval team introduced a new aerodynamic vehicle design but were stymied by “major engine issues” at the event.
“We took our frustrations from last year’s event and used them as motivation to return better than ever,” said Philippe Bouchard, Laval team manager. “We trained our new team members and spent twice as much time fine tuning the engine and building the car.”
Mater Dei High from Evansville, Ind., took first place in the UrbanConcept category, achieving 849 mpg. The school won first place in 2012 with 2,308 mpg.