Imagine driving across the American continent on a single gallon of fuel.

The equivalent distance of 2,731 miles has already proved possible for some of the ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles that will compete in this year’s Shell Eco-marathon Americas.

The energy efficiency competition will bring together over 1,000 students from high school and university teams from across North and South America.

Shell Eco-marathon is a global programme, challenging students from around the world to design, build and compete with their own energy-efficient vehicles.

The Americas leg of the programme returns to the state where it first began 11 years ago. It will be held at California’s Sonoma Raceway from April 19 to 22. It is part of Make the Future California – a four-day public festival of ideas and innovation.

“We are excited to return to California, a hub for technology and innovation, as we bring together students, energy entrepreneurs and global and local partners to demonstrate collaboration and ignite conversations about how to meet the growing energy demand while reducing CO₂ emissions,” said Bruce Culpepper, US Country Chair and President, Shell Oil Company.

“These ambitious students from all over the Americas have been preparing for the ultimate energy-efficiency challenge, and their bright ideas and innovations on the track show us all what could be possible for the energy solutions of the future.”

How it works

Make the Future California will host two Shell Eco-marathon competitions:

The first is Shell Eco-marathon Mileage Challenge. This part of the competition offers two categories for teams to choose from: Prototype and UrbanConcept.

Prototype teams feature futuristic and highly-aerodynamic vehicles, while UrbanConcept showcases economical and innovative vehicles that resemble regular cars on the road.

For both vehicle categories in this event, teams can choose to compete with one of three categories based on five official energy sources:

  • Internal combustion: gasoline, diesel, and ethanol
  • Hydrogen fuel cell
  • Battery electric technologies

Returning to defend their 2017 victory in the Mileage Challenge is the team from Université Laval in Quebec, Canada.

Last year Université Laval recorded 2,731.1 miles per gallon in their Prototype car. Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Indiana, won the UrbanConcept category, recording 723.4 miles per gallon in its gasoline powered vehicle.

The second competition is Drivers’ World Championship Regional Final. Here, teams must combine the energy-efficiency of their cars, with the speed and skill of the driver in an exciting race to find America’s fastest energy-efficient driver.

Winners will secure their place in the Drivers' World Championship Grand Final, to be held in London in July 2018.

In 2017 it was an Americas team, Saint Thomas Academy from Minnesota, who won the global race for efficiency in the Drivers’ World Championship Grand Final in London.

Global program

Currently held in Asia, the Americas and Europe, Shell Eco-marathon is a global program of competitions built to offer students hands-on opportunities to develop ideas and technology, knowledge and skills.

Students from countries across their respective regions use innovative problem-solving skills to design and build their own cars.

“Shell Eco-marathon helps to prepare the next generation of leading scientists and engineers,” said Shanna Simmons, Shell Eco-marathon Global Technical Director.

“This competition program provides students an opportunity to create a real impact in the world today by encouraging innovation and real solutions to address the global energy challenge.”

Shell Eco-marathon began in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the United States as a friendly bet between scientists to see who could get the most miles per gallon from their vehicle.

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