Teams of students from around the world, who labored for several weeks to build super-fuel-efficient cars, sent those cars into the final test at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Houston this past weekend. The top winner for traditional fuels: Université Laval of Québec City, which achieved a best run of 3,587 miles per gallon (1,524 kilometers per liter) with its gasoline-powered prototype—a result that exceeded their victorious run in 2011 and that of last year’s no. 1, Mater Dei High School, by more than 1,000 mpg. (See related: “Canada’s Laval Is Custom Built for Efficiency.”)
Mater Dei, of Evansville, Indiana, had its own victories. The team won both the battery electric prototype and gasoline urban concept categories, achieving 600.1 miles per kilowatt hour (equivalent to a whopping 20,223 miles per gallon, using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard of 33.7 kilowatt hours equaling 1 gallon of gasoline) and 849.2 mpg (361 km/l), respectively. (See: “With Duct Tape and Determination, Mater Dei Seeks to Defend Its Title.“)
Alden Conger High School also scored two victories, winning the alternative diesel and alternative gasoline protoype categories with scores of 1,017.8 mpg (432.7 km/l) and 1,579.9 mpg (671.6 km/l), respectively. Winners of some of the off-track awards included Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, which won the Perseverance in the Face of Adversity Award (see their pre-race blog post); California Polytechnic State University and University of Louisiana-Lafayette for design; and Kimberly High School of Kimberly, Wisconsin, for best team spirit.
Another perennial Eco-marathon winner, Louisiana Tech, scored yet another victory with its HotRod urban concept. In the diesel category, it achieved a best run of 316 mpg (134 km/l). (See also: “Louisiana Tech Mixes Street Legal With Efficiency.”) The team also brought their “XX” vehicle, which they blogged about in the weeks before the race (see “All-Nighters with “XX,” Our Tribute to a Beloved Mascot”). With a sleek blue chassis and a Lamborghini-style door that swings upward, XX illustrates the team’s ambitions for street-legal design.
“[The team's] want a car that looks like a car,” explained Heath Tims, associate professor of mechanical engineering and team coach, during the competition. “They want people to say, ‘If that was 25 percent bigger, I’d buy that car.’”