Eco Marathon: Can You Get 3,000 MPG?

Posted on March 27, 2012

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2011 Winner

If you thought that getting 50+ MPG in a gasoline-powered car is a stellar result, there’s one annual event in the U.S. that would demonstrate otherwise: the Shell Eco-Marathon in Houston, Texas. From March 29 through April 1, more than 1000 high school and university students will be competing to break the 2,565 MPG record that was achieved by a Quebec team in 2011 (see winning car picture above). The new goal: break 3,000 MPG. Yes, that is three thousand miles per gallon – a fuel efficiency so incredible that you could drive between San Diego and New York City with 200 miles left before you would have an empty tank.

With any stratospheric fuel efficiency, there are tradeoffs in design. You can’t expect to have the speed of a Ferrari or toughness of a pickup truck if your goal is to drive from coast to coast on one gallon of fuel. So students are challenged to design, build and compete with vehicles that look more like a streamlined rocket on three or four wheels. These concept cars would not pass the stringent tests and rigorous requirements dictated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for motor vehicle safety. Yet the innovative minds working on the latest breakthroughs for ultra-efficiency will pave the way for the cars of the future.

Eco Marathon logo
“Shell Eco-marathon is an important part of the energy challenge facing our planet,” says Mark Singer, Global Project Manager. “The future will require a mosaic of energy solutions, and we believe we’re contributing to a smarter energy future with more responsible options for our customers and credible advice for our markets and policymakers. Shell Eco-marathon is an amazing experience for students and spectators alike.”

The 2012 Shell Eco-Marathon features over 100 teams from 39 high schools and 46 universities in the Americas region – from as far south as Brazil and Mexico to the US and Canada. The teams are allowed to use a variety of energy resources for their fuel: gasoline, ethanol, hydrogen, solar, electric batteries or other alternatives. The event encourages global students to develop solutions to promote sustainable development and environmental protection. The Shell Eco-Marathon will also be launched on May 17 in Rotterdam, Netherlands and on July 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. If you’ve got a great concept for 2013, you can register here.

With Zipcar and Car2Go providing viable alternatives to owning a car and minimizing carbon footprint, these super-efficient cars could provide the sequel to the most fuel efficient cars of today like VW’s UP! (56 MPG), Nissan Leaf (~99MPG), Ford Focus BEV (105+ MPG) and other compacts. Would you drive a bullet-shaped car to get 3,000 MPG?

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* Article first published as “Eco Marathon of Future Cars: 3000 MPG?” on Technorati.

© 2012 by Ed Valdez. All rights reserved.

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Posted in: Eco Leader