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."