The 10th Shell Eco-marathon Americas ended on Sunday April 24 under warm blue skies with two perennial favourites battling along the Motor City’s riverfront and downtown streets to see which custom-built, ultra-energy-efficient vehicle would travel the greatest distance using the least amount of energy.

More than1,000 students from a record 124 teams representing seven countries – Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States – competed over three days with energy-efficient vehicles they designed and built themselves. On Saturday and Sunday, the vehicles drove 10 laps for a total distance of six miles (almost 10 kilometres) around the circuit.

Students competed with two categories of vehicles. The Prototype category invites students to enter futuristic, streamlined vehicles, while the UrbanConcept category focuses on “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers. Teams power their cars on fuels that range from hydrogen, compressed natural gas [D1] and battery power to traditional gasoline and alternatives such as ethanol.

While it can be fierce, the competition also sparks much co-operation among the teams.

Keeping the dream alive

Another year has passed with the event’s best-ever result remaining intact. 

From Quebec in Canada, team Université Laval managed to regain the title from Canadian rivals, the University of Toronto. They recorded 2,585 miles per US gallon (1,099 kilometres per litre) with their gasoline-fueled prototype car Alérion Supermileage. However Laval fell short of beating their own 2013 best of 3,587mpg (1,525km/l) set in 2013. The team from Toronto wanted to surpass their main competitor on their final attempt, but hopes were dashed when their vehicle failed to start. 

In the Prototype diesel category, the all-girls’ Shopgirls team from Washington state, USA, broke their school record three times in a row to take first place with 1,115mpg (474km/l).

See all the results 

London-bound winners, new Brazil event

More eyes than ever have been on UrbanConcept competitors this year. Winning teams from across the Americas, Asia and Europe will compete at the first Shell Eco-marathon Drivers’ World Championship, taking place on July 3, 2016 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, during Shell Eco-marathon Europe.

Mater Dei High School, from Indiana, USA, won the gasoline-powered UrbanConcept category with a 752mpg (320km/l), and will head to London with fellow US teams from Alden-Conger High School, Saint Thomas Academy, Newburgh Free Academy.

The winning team will earn an invite to spend one week with Scuderia Ferrari at its facility in Maranello, Italy, where team members will receive personal coaching and advice from its engineers on how they can improve their car for the 2017 Shell Eco-marathon.

A new, smaller[?] Shell Eco-marathon Brazil challenger event was announced at the awards ceremony, which will give the teams from the region a chance to fine-tune their vehicles and qualify to the competition in Detroit.

Celebrating collaboration

When Braham High School’s (Minnesota, USA) only electrical engineer had to cancel his trip to Detroit, the team from Oregon State University lent Braham electrical engineers to help it pass the tough technical inspection required for each vehicle before it can race. 

For Krystal Santiago Olavarria, driver of Inter-American University of Puerto Rico’s vehicle, the biggest surprise of the event was the collaboration between the teams furiously assembling cars on the convention floor at Detroit’s Cobo Center. “They are really nice to us and are willing to help others with whatever we need,” she said. Unfortunately, her team’s gasoline-powered car didn’t pass the mandatory technical inspection. 

OFF-Track Award Winners

Besides the awards for best fuel economy in a category, teams could compete for one or more special awards, including awards for safety, communications, design, technical innovation, perseverance, and team spirit. Read on for the winners.

Safety Award 

Team Paoli Purple (Gasoline Prototype), USA

The Paoli Purple High School team incorporated safety features not only in the vehicle design and the team's daily practices in the paddock, but also during the vehicle building process. A proactive accident prevention mindset also was evident in display files in the paddock, which demonstrated safety is the team’s top priority.

Communications Award

EcoVeiculo (Battery Electric Prototype), Brazil

The team from Universidade Federal de Itajuba were rewarded for a proficient broadcast and social platform. They also included local community and sponsors in spreading the word about their participation in the competition. 

Perseverance Award 

Team E-Team (Battery Electric Prototype), Ecuador

The team from Universidad del Azuay journeyed more than 3,000 miles to Detroit, facing tough travel challenges with a car that needed to be disassembled to fit into standard luggage. More impressively, within a week of the team’s departure, Ecuador experienced two major earthquakes and sustained 650 deaths and more than 12,000 injuries. While faced with this emotional weight, the team focused on its mission, exhibiting great optimism with a goal of bringing a silver lining back home.  

Spirit of the Event Award 

Team Troy High School (Michigan) and Team James B. Dudley High School (North Carolina), USA

In the past year these two teams cultivated a friendship built on respect and the desire to collaborate. Dudley High helped team Troy realise its dream of competing in the Eco-marathon. It donated parts, tools, advice and guidance to the Troy team, which has been practically self-driven, raising funds and working long hours on its vehicle. And even though the team’s car was destroyed 11 days ago in a flooded basement, team members built a new vehicle from the ground up, inspiring every team they worked with in Detroit. 

Technical Innovation Award

Tatonkatoo (Ethanol Prototype), University of Colorado Boulder, USA

Team members took a different slant on the “Eco” portion of Shell Eco-marathon by seeking to impact the total energy lifecycle cost of its vehicle through the innovative use of natural fibre composite materials mixed with wine tannins and gelatine.

Vehicle Design Award (two awards)

Team Beyond (Battery Electric Prototype), Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec,  Canada 

Université de Sherbrooke stood out with a beautifully aerodynamic sculpted body, meticulous fit and finish, custom touches like their own hand built electric motor, and all topped off with an eye popping color choice.

Experimental Vehicle Team Alpha (Battery Electric Urban Concept), Saint Thomas Academy, Minnesota, USA

Saint Thomas Academy demonstrated a fresh and approach with a vehicle featuring a unique silhouette, an eye-catching paint scheme, and innovations like fold-out lighting, a removable electronics tray for ease of service, and working suspension.

More in Shell Eco-marathon

For Americas participants

If you’re a participant or want to join Shell Eco-marathon Americas, see all you need to know about the competition.