This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 16, 2008

Vehicle Built by High School Achieves 2,843.4 Miles per Gallon

Photo of the Mater Dei car on the racetrack. A driver lays on his back in the bullet-shaped vehicle, his feet in the nose of the vehicle. Two wheels bracket his knees, a third wheel is behind his head, and the entire vehicle is encased in a plastic cover.

The Mater Dei vehicle features all the comforts of a coffin, but with less crash protection. The vehicle's small engine is tucked behind the driver's head.
Credit: Shell

The team from Mater Dei High School of Evansville, Indiana, has won the Shell Eco-marathon Americas with a fuel economy of 2,843.4 miles per gallon (mpg). The Shell Eco-marathon Americas challenges student teams from across the Americas to design and build the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Now in its second year, the event drew 32 teams from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The four high-school teams and 23 university teams include such prestigious schools as California Polytechnic Institute. And even though some teams took a high-tech approach with hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, the Mater Dei achieved the top fuel efficiency using a small internal combustion engine. Mater Dei's achievement is particularly notable given the fact that the school does not offer a shop class, so all the work on the car is done outside of school. See the Shell press release and Eco-marathon Americas Web site, as well as the Mater Dei Supermileage Team Web site.

While the Shell Eco-marathon is relatively new to the Americas, the Shell Eco-marathon Europe has been held annually since 1985. The event has become so popular that Shell has had to limit entries to 200 teams for this year's event, forcing its selection committee to winnow down a list of more than 300 applicants. The European event also holds the world record for fuel economy, as a hydrogen-fueled vehicle achieved the equivalent of 12,665 mpg back in 2005. This year's event runs from May 22-24 at the Nogaro Motor Circuit in France and features teams from 25 countries. See the Shell Eco-marathon Europe Web site and the article from the EERE Network News on the record-setting fuel economy.