A highly fuel-efficient car at the local dealership will get 40 miles per gallon or more, but that is barely scratching the surface of what is possible. The winning car in the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe got 8,002 miles per gallon.
Shell, the gasoline company, sponsors and puts on a race series every year in Asia, Europe and the United States. The Shell Eco-Marathon, the name of the race series, challenges designers to push the boundaries of how much a vehicle can do on as little power as possible. There are various racing classes, according to The Telegraph, all using various sources of power including electric, gasoline, diesel and propane.
The winner this year, from France, was an Eco-Marathon stalwart, Microjoule-La Joliverie, a French team. Microjoule’s team hit 8,002 miles per gallon in their gas-powered prototype.
Far from the record
The overall record for fuel efficiency in Shell Eco-Marathon events also belongs to the Microjoule team, which set the record in 2003 for achieving 10,705 miles per gallon in the event, the equivalent of driving from London, England to Melbourne, Australia, on a gallon of gas. Microjoule had set the record previously in 2001, according to Gizmag, achieving more than 10,000 mpg.
As races, they wouldn’t very entertaining to watch. According to Shell’s website, the races go on for hours and the circuit for this year’s European event was, according to the BBC, a 10.1-mile road course. However, the speed of the cars, according to Gizmag, is just over 15 miles per hour.
Not quite ready for regular use
Shell has been running the Shell Eco-Marathons for more than 30 years, and the point is to push the limits of what is technically achievable. Most of the cars are not terribly practical.
Aside from the incredibly low speed and the fact that the cars use bicycle tires, most hold only one person. Cars in the Urban Concept class of cars might be able to hold two people with modifications, though many or the cars are designed for one. The cars also are not likely to pass crash test safety ratings.
The winner of the Urban Concept class this year was DTU Roadrunners, according to The Telegraph, from the Technical University of Denmark. DTU’s urban car concept, called the Dynamo, weighs 105 kilograms (about 231 pounds), according to the team’s website, so it won’t exactly stand up to much abuse. However, it still achieved 1,726 miles per gallon.
However, there is some hope of using them as road cars. One former entrant in the race, Harold Marfleet, had secured road certification in England for his GSM prototype and was using it as a daily driver in 2003. Marfleet’s GSM used a 50 cc engine from a moped, getting more than 200 miles per gallon.
The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2723474/Running-on-empty.html
DTU Roadrunners: http://ecocar.dk/