Auto Service World
News   April 14, 2008   by Auto Service World

Laval Students Battle Tough Conditions and Tough Customs Officers in Eco Challenge

“Ladies and gentlemen, start your fuel-efficient engines” were the words that kicked off the 2008 Shell Eco-marathon Americas; and that’s exactly what more than 300 students from Canada, Mexico, and the United States did.
Mater Dei High School of Evansville, Ind., set a new mileage record at the 2008 Shell Eco-marathon Americas, a challenge to design, build and test fuel-efficient prototype vehicles that travel the farthest distance using the least amount of fuel.
The team’s combustion-engine prototype vehicle achieved an astonishing 2,843.4 miles per gallon, equivalent to 1,208.6 kilometers per liter.
Despite wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour and various teams’ mechanical issues, competition was steep this year with three teams breaking the 2007 mileage record.
“When we first arrived, I wasn’t sure a small high school like Mater Dei could compete with all these elite colleges,” said Justin Stute, Mater Dei High School team captain.
“But our first run broke the record and then our second car did even better. That really motivated both of our teams to go all the way.”
Mark Singer, global project manager for the Shell Eco-marathon said, “Students participating in this competition are the brains of the future, stretching the boundaries of fuel efficiency and providing solutions to the global energy challenge.
“Throughout the two-day competition, teams are constantly making improvements to their vehicles, exchanging ideas and inspiring one another to pay attention to their own energy footprint.”
The 2008 Shell Eco-marathon Americas welcomed 32 teams from four high schools and 23 universities from Canada, Mexico and the U.S.
The entries include 25 vehicles powered by combustion engines, four by fuel cell/hydrogen technology, one by diesel fuel, one by LPG (liquid petroleum gas) and two by solar power.
With mileage of 2,843.4 mpg (1,208.6 kilometers per liter) the supermileage team from Mater Dei High School won a $10,000 grand prize with their vehicle, 6th Gen.
While the North American competition was difficult for all, one Canadian team had to battle some different elements.
The 17-member team from Universite Laval was on hold for two days waiting for their vehicle to clear U.S. customs.
With only one day left to compete, the Canadian team worked well into the night to fully assemble their car and clear inspection within 12 hours.
In their first attempt, the team from Quebec moved into fifth place.
“It was a nice outcome that we got the car,” Raphael Desiletes-Aube said. “We used the spare time to organize the fastest way to reassemble the vehicle.
“Once the car got here, it really motivated my team members to push harder so we could get the car out on the track.”