New CAFE standards? Student competitors leave them far behind

At the 7th annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013 competition, held in Houston, Texas, a vehicle designed by a team from Université Laval achieved a mind-boggling 3,587 miles on a single gallon of gasoline.

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At the 7th annual Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2013 competition, held in Houston, Texas, a vehicle designed by a team from Université Laval (Quebec, Canada) achieved a mind-boggling 3,587 miles on a single gallon of gasoline, the highest mileage ever achieved by a Université Laval team and the highest yet recorded during the Shell Eco-marathon Americas challenge. Last year’s winner, a team from Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Ind., placed second with a best run of 2,308 mpg on the track through the streets of downtown Houston.

The Université Laval achievement — nearly 1,300 mpg better than Mater Dei’s showing last year — astounded the other competitors and the more than 1,000 students and other spectators who watched the weekend’s events. A total of 131 vehicles competed this year in various categories for the $2,000 first-place prize. The event was an international affair. Competing teams hailed from Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S.

“What the Laval team accomplished is truly remarkable and it underscores the long way our own cars and trucks can go to improve their fuel efficiency, said Mark Singer, global project manager of Shell Eco-marathon. Each year, dedicated high school and university student teams astonish us with the advances they make in achieving unheard of fuel-efficiency improvements.”

Although it was astounding, Université Laval’s winning mark — achieved in the Prototype category for internal combustion vehicles — didn’t break the all-time record, which stands at 8,914 mpg, a feat accomplished by a French team in 2003. Besides the Americas competition in Houston, Shell Eco-marathon also occurs annually in Europe and Asia and involves thousands of students from dozens of countries.

Shell reports that more than 7,000 Houstonians came out to watch Shell Eco-marathon Americas and experience the Shell Energy Lab, an interactive exhibit that demonstrated that the work of Shell Eco-marathon Americas participants is just one of many inspiring innovative efforts to solve energy challenges and keep the world moving in cleaner, more energy efficient ways.