University of Toronto’s Supermileage team, the 2015 eco-champions.
University of Toronto’s Supermileage team, the 2015 eco-champions.

On Sun., April 13, in the Motor City – Detroit, Michigan - two Canadian universities battled for the second year in a row to see which would win first place honours in the 2015 Shell Eco-marathon Americas. In a reversal of 2014 fate, the University of Toronto Supermileage team came from behind in their last efficiency run of the day to edge out Quebec’s Université Laval Alérion team, a perennial favourite that had won two years in a row and in five-of-the-last six years.

U of T’s Supermileage achieved the equivalent of 1,454 km/litre, besting Alérion’s 1,431 km/litre posting in the gasoline prototype category. To put that into perspective, it's almost 100-times better than what is generally expected from a compact car in today’s market.

This year’s 30th anniversary event drew 113 teams, representing over 1,000 high school and university students, from across the Americas – Brazil, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.

Before hitting a new and hilly track through the streets of downtown Detroit, teams had to make tweaks

and, in some cases, major adjustments to pass detailed technical and safety inspections. Of the 111 teams that made it to the inspections, 89 passed and were cleared to run the track. The track also proved challenging for student drivers who had to steer their low-slung, futuristic vehicles through sharp turns and elevation changes as spectators cheered them from the sidelines.

"A little more than 100 years ago, just two blocks away, there was a young fellow by the name of Henry Ford working on his quadricycle. He tested it on these streets where he achieved 10 to 20 mpg at the time," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. "When you consider the achievements of these bright young minds, creating vehicles of the future that can travel more than 2,000 miles on a single gallon of fuel, I am amazed at the progress and inspired by what the future may hold."

Quebec’s Université Laval Alérion car on the track.
Quebec’s Université Laval Alérion car on the track.

Before hitting a new and hilly track through the streets of downtown Detroit, teams had to make tweaks

and, in some cases, major adjustments to pass detailed technical and safety inspections. Of the 111 teams that made it to the inspections, 89 passed and were cleared to run the track. The track also proved challenging for student drivers who had to steer their low-slung, futuristic vehicles through sharp turns and elevation changes as spectators cheered them from the sidelines.

"A little more than 100 years ago, just two blocks away, there was a young fellow by the name of Henry Ford working on his quadricycle. He tested it on these streets where he achieved 10 to 20 mpg at the time," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. "When you consider the achievements of these bright young minds, creating vehicles of the future that can travel more than 2,000 miles on a single gallon of fuel, I am amazed at the progress and inspired by what the future may hold."

How’d Canada do?

PROTOTYPE Category

Rank

Team

Fuel

Best result

1 University of Toronto
Gasoline 1454 km/l 
2 Universite Laval
Gasoline 1431 km/l
6 Dalhousie University
Gasoline 439km/l
9 École de technologie Supérieure
Gasoline 357 km/l
23 Concordia University (debut year)
Gasoline 83 km/l

The remaining Canadian teams in this category – Queen’s University, UBC, Université de Moncton - were unable to post results due to failed technical inspections or incomplete attempts to complete the difficult track.

University of Waterloo entered a Battery Electric prototype vehicle, however, failed to complete all 10 technical inspection requirements.

URBAN CONCEPT Category

Rank

Team

Fuel

Best result

2 University of British Columbia
Gasoline 138 km/l

The University of Alberta’s Hydrogen Cell fuelled vehicle sailed through technical inspection, however, was unable to complete the required seven laps to post a result.

These student teams worked countless hours to get to Detroit, and in many instances, through the night in Detroit to get their eco-cars on the course. Balazs Gyenes, Team Manager for the U of A said it well, "To get here, you have to want to learn more than you want to win."

Shell Eco-marathon Americas will return to Detroit in 2016. For more information on all 2015 events across the globe, including the complete Americas 2015 roster, schedule and official rules, please visit the Shell Eco-marathon website at  www.shell.com/ecomarathon .

To get a taste of the 2015 action, watch this short eco-recap:  The big finish .

2015 Shell Eco-marathon cars line Jefferson Avenue in Detroit.
2015 Shell Eco-marathon cars line Jefferson Avenue in Detroit.

Shell Eco-marathon is a global program that challenges high school and college student teams to design, build and test the most energy-efficient vehicles. With annual events in the Americas, Europe and Asia, this innovation competition pushes future scientists and engineers to travel the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

Visit www.shellecomarathon.us to learn more about this innovative event.

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