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

June 22, 2005

Indiana Students Achieve 1,836 MPG in Supermileage Competition

A team of students from Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Indiana, took top honors in mid-June at the 2005 Supermileage competition by achieving 1,836 miles per gallon (mpg). Sponsored by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the competition requires each team to build a fuel-efficient vehicle using a small four-cycle engine, then demonstrate its fuel efficiency by traveling 9.6 miles on an oval track while maintaining a speed of at least 15 miles per hour. The competition involves building lightweight, highly aerodynamic vehicles with low rolling resistances, and most teams also rebuild the engine and fuel system for greater fuel efficiency.

Photo looking down at a long, skinny, teardrop-shaped vehicle, which has a small plastic windshield at its front,
slight flares on both sides of the front for wheels, and a slight hump along its top.

The Supermileage entry from the University of British Columbia.
Credit: UBC

For instance, the entry from the University of British Columbia (UBC) rides extremely low with wheels totally encased in a teardrop-shaped body, powered by a reduced-displacement, fuel-injected engine. The vehicle features an aluminum honeycomb chassis with a carbon fiber body that achieves a drag coefficient of only 0.11 (for comparison, the aerodynamic Honda Insight has a drag coefficient of 0.25, and the ideal teardrop shape has a drag coefficient of about 0.04). The vehicle took first place among the college teams with a fuel economy of 1,608 mpg. See the SAE press release and Supermileage Web page, as well as the UBC team Web site.

DaimlerChrysler researchers are also looking for more aerodynamic vehicles, and have drawn their inspiration from an unlikely source: the boxfish. The resulting concept car, called the Mercedes-Benz Bionic Car, features an extremely short snout and high glass "forehead" for the windshield, followed by streamlined contours tapering towards the rear of the car. With a drag coefficient of only 0.19, combined with a lightweight honeycomb body structure and a direct-injection diesel engine, the Bionic Car achieves an estimated fuel economy of about 70 mpg. See DaimlerChrysler's special report on the Bionic Car.