Student teams from 25 countries across Europe will gather in London this week for the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, part of a global competition challenging young people to push the boundaries of energy efficiency.

More than 170 ultra-energy-efficient vehicles are expected to compete on the challenging, custom-built track at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as the UK hosts the competition for the second consecutive year.

“The London track is particularly challenging for all teams,” says Norman Koch, Global Technical Director for Shell Eco-marathon. “We saw incredibly strong performance, determination and team spirit last year and expect this year’s event to be equally exciting.”

Driving energy efficiency

Shell Eco-marathon challenges students around the world to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car they can. Three annual events – in Asia, the Americas and Europe – see teams attempting to travel furthest on the tiniest amount of fuel.

The competition inspires engineers of the future to turn their visions for more sustainable transport into reality. The teams design and build cars that use a variety of energy types, ranging from gasoline and natural gas, to electric batteries and hydrogen.

After spending months designing and building their cars, the bright young engineers will steer their super-efficient creations onto the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park track from May 25-28.

Competing categories

The designs fall into two broad categories. The Prototype class focuses on maximum efficiency. Energy efficiency is also important for the UrbanConcept category, but this class encourages more practical car-like designs.

Over the course of the competition, teams make several attempts to travel the furthest on the equivalent of one litre of fuel. Competing cars drive a fixed number of laps around the circuit at a set speed.

Technical Experts calculate their energy efficiency and identify the winner in each class and for each type of energy.

The current record stands at 3,771 km/l – that’s the equivalent of travelling from London to Helsinki and back again on just one litre of fuel.

The Drivers’ World Championship

In 2016, London hosted the inaugural Drivers’ World Championship (DWC) race during the first Shell Eco-marathon event ever staged in the city.

Eight teams from around the world competed head-to-head to be the first across the finish line in the race final last summer.

In 2016, the winners were Bumi Siliwangi Team 4 from Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia. Their battery-electric vehicle took the chequered flag and won them a well-deserved week in Italy with the Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 team.

A team from the Philippines won the first Drivers’ World Championship Asia race when it was held in Singapore in March 2017, however. So Manila’s De La Salle University and two different universities from Indonesia will fly to London to take on the best of Europe this year.

They will be joined by the Americas regional final winners – Saint Thomas Academy from Minnesota – and the two other US high-school teams that took podium positions in Detroit at the end of April.

Who will be this year’s top performers in London?

Shell Eco-marathon Europe runs from May 25 until May 28. There are several ways to follow it:

The competition is part of the Make the Future Live festival. The four-day public event will showcase ideas for addressing the global challenge of generating more energy while producing less carbon dioxide.

More in Shell Eco-marathon

For Europe participants

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