DETROIT, April 25, 2016 – The 10th Shell Eco-marathon Americas ended Sunday with two perennial favorites battling along the Motor City’s riverfront and downtown streets to see which custom-built, ultra-energy-efficient vehicle would travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy. The Université Laval team from Quebec regained the title from its Canadian rival, the University of Toronto.
The Laval team recorded 2,585 miles per gallon with its gasoline-fueled prototype, but that mark fell short of its record 3,587 mpg set in 2013. The University of Toronto team, whose vehicle finished with a best run of 2,364 mpg, had hoped to surpass its chief competitor’s mark on its final attempt, but its vehicle failed to start.
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 two classes of vehicles. The Prototype class invites students to enter futuristic, streamlined vehicles, and the UrbanConcept class focuses on “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers.
Entries are divided by energy type:
- Internal combustion engine fuels: gasoline, diesel, liquid fuel made from natural gas and ethanol.
- Electric mobility: hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric.
The event began 31 years ago in Europe and in addition to the Americas competition, Shell Eco-marathon is held annually in Europe and Asia. The unique competition challenges students around the world to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient cars.
In fact, UrbanConcept 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 iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. 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.
Teams headed to London with their vehicles include Mater Dei High School, Evansville, Ind.; Alden-Conger High School, Alden, Minn.; Saint Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights, Minn.; and Newburgh Free Academy, Newburgh, New York. Additional teams as guest spectators are the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada; and the University of Illinois, Champaign, Ill.
Six Schools Have Competed All 10 Years
Four universities – California Polytechnic State University, Cedarville (Ohio) University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Indiana) and the University of California, Los Angeles, and two high schools – Mater Dei High School and Grand Rapids (Michigan) High School – have participated every year of the Americas competition. As it has previously, the Mater Dei High School Prototype gas-powered vehicle was the top-performing high school entry, registering 857 mpg and coming in ninth overall.
In that category, the University of Toronto actually held a slight lead over Université Laval entering Sunday’s competition, but its rival came back strong. Among other top five finishers were California Polytechnic State University, Northern Illinois University and Dalhousie University. Among high schools, following Mater Dei High were Ruston (Louisiana) High School, Livingston (New Jersey) High School, Paoli (Indiana) High School and Terre Haute (Indiana) South Vigo High School.
In the UrbanConcept competition, Mater Dei High School’s gasoline-powered vehicle won, recording a 752 mpg run, followed by the 525 mpg run of the Knights 3 team, a diesel-fuel entry, from Alden-Conger High School. In the Prototype diesel category, the Granite Falls (Washington) all-girls’ Shopgirls team broke its school record three times in a row and, in its final run, took first place with 1,115 mpg, edging out Sullivan (Indiana) High School’s 1,083 mpg run.
Event Celebrates Collaboration Along with Competition
While it can be fierce, the competition also sparks a great deal of cooperation among the teams. When Braham (Minnesota) High School’s 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. Her team of eight engineering students spent about two months building its lightweight, gasoline-powered car, which unfortunately didn’t pass the mandatory tech inspection.
Shell Chairman Chad Holliday told the students in Detroit that he draws inspiration from their inventiveness and urged them to savor the teamwork required to prevail. “This experience, if you haven’t figured it out yet, is going to change your life,” he said. “You will think back 20-to-30 years from now and think about teamwork.”
The Winning Teams
On Saturday and Sunday, the vehicles drove 10 laps for a total distance of six miles around the circuit at an average speed of 15 mph. The winners in each class follow, based on vehicle class and energy source:
- Prototype gasoline: The Alérion Supermileage team, Université Laval of Quebec, 2,585 mpg.
- Prototype diesel: ShopGirls team, Granite Falls High School of Washington, 1,115.1 mpg.
- Prototype battery-electric: Beyond team, Universite de Sherbrooke of Canada, 454.5 mi/kWh.
- Prototype hydrogen fuel cell: Queen’s Fuel Cell team, Queens University of Canada, 83.9mi/m3.
- Prototype alternative: Tatonkatoo team, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1,214.3 mpg.
- UrbanConcept gasoline: Mater Dei Supermileage team, Mater Dei High School of Indiana, 793 mpg.
- UrbanConcept diesel: Knights 3, Alden-Conger High School of Minnesota, 525.1 mpg.
- UrbanConcept battery-electric: Experimental Vehicle Team Alpha, Saint Thomas Academy of Minnesota, 52.7 mi/kWh.
- UrbanConcept hydrogen fuel cell: EcoCar Team, University of Alberta, 41 mi/m3.
- UrbanConcept alternative fuel: Let’s Do It Again 2, James B. Dudley High School of North Carolina, 107.7 mpg.
Besides the awards for best fuel economy in a category, teams could compete for one or more special awards, including awards for safety, communications, perseverance, design, team spirit and technical innovation. The winners were:
Safety Award: Team Paoli Purple, Gasoline Prototype, Paoli (Indiana) High School. The 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. Its proactive accident prevention mindset also was evident in its display files in the paddock that demonstrated that safety is the team’s top priority.
Communications Award: EcoVeiculo, Battery Electric Prototype, Universidade Federal de Itajuba (Brazil). Besides the team’s proficient broadcast and social platform, it included its local community and sponsors in spreading the word about its participation in the competition.
Perseverance Award: Team E-Team, Battery Electric Prototype, Universidad del Azuay (Ecuador). Journeying more than 3,000 miles, the team faced tough travel challenges and had to disassemble its entire car to fit it 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 (Michigan) High School and Team James B. Dudley (North Carolina) High School, which over the past year cultivated a friendship built on respect and the desire to collaborate. Dudley High helped the Troy team realize 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.
Vehicle Design Award: Team Beyond, Battery Electric Prototype, Universite de Sherbrook (Canada) and Saint Thomas (Minnesota) Academy Experimental Vehicle Team Alpha, Battery Electric Urban Concept.
Technical Innovation: Tatonkatoo, Ethanol Prototype, University of Colorado Boulder. 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 fiber composite materials mixed with wine tannins and gelatin.
Additional Prizes: Tristan Dinkel, a Sullivan (Indiana) High School student won a gaming laptop. Addie Randall and Justin Williams of James B. Dudley High School in North Carolina won a $500 Shell gift card. Iuri Costa Prado of Universidade Federal de Itajuba (Brazil) won an Apple iPad, and Alejandro Serrano Mora of Universidade Nacional Autonoma De Mexico (Mexico City) won a HP tablet.
Global, Local Partners Help Contribute to Shell Eco-marathon’s Success
The event has become a training and recruiting ground for engineers and other technical talent. This year, student competitors were offered the opportunity to meet and network with global and full event partners, as well as with technical and local partners during a two-day career fair sponsored by SAE International.
“The level of collaboration, not only among the students but also between our global and local event partners and the schools, has been more than anyone could imagine,” said Pam Rosen, general manager for Shell Eco-marathon Americas. “This event brought so many bright minds together and fostered new ideas, cross-country friendships, and lasting professional relationships that will continue to open doors for these future engineers and scientists.”
Shell Eco-marathon Americas will return to Detroit and Cobo Center for a third consecutive year on April 28-30, 2017.