The history of the Shell Eco-marathon stretches back over 50 years. In 1959, a group of Shell scientists based in a research laboratory in Illinois, USA, had a friendly bet to see who could drive their own car furthest on one gallon of fuel. Although they didn’t achieve much more than 50 miles per gallon (MPG), it was the foundation of today’s prestigious international event. Today competitions are being held annually in three different parts of the world (America, Asia and Europe).
The participating teams in the Shell Eco-marathon use many different energy sources for their vehicles. The competitiors are also divided into two different classes: Urban Concept and Prototype, based on diffent design aspects and driving criteria. During the competition, cars have to keep an average speed of at least 15 mph over a distance of 10 miles. The performance of the cars is based on the measured energy consumption.
The Shell Eco-Marathon is a competition in which vehicles really take fuel consumption to the extreme using just as cutting-edge technology as the average Formula One car or space shuttle. In order to optimize the fuel consumption, many different design aspects such as aerodynamics, rolling resistance, engine efficiency and driving techniques have to be taken into consideration. Each year the teams demonstrate creativity and innovation to make the leap required to improve their performance.
The competing vehicles are highly specialized and optimized for the event and not intended for everyday use. The designs represent what can be achieved with current technology and offer a glimpse into the future of car design based on minimal environmental impact in a world with reduced oil reserves. Nevertheless, the work of the participants can still be used to show ways manufacturers could redesign their products.
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