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Gas mileage challenged in Shell Eco-marathon Americas

Monday, March 30, 2009 - 23:00

High school and college students are taking automotive parts and knowledge to extreme levels again, increasing fuel mileage up to nearly 3,000 miles per gallon in the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas®. Fifty-two student teams — including nine high schools and 32 universities — are in the final stretch as they work to complete their vehicles for the 2009 challenge taking place April 16-18 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

"By participating in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, we have the opportunity to study new fuel-efficient technologies in automotive applications and gain practical experience for the future," says Andrew Ritter, student team leader of the Mater Dei High School team, who set the Shell Eco-marathon Americas record in 2008 with 2,843 miles per gallon, equivalent to 1,208.6 kilometers per liter. "Last year, we didn't think our team could compete with such elite colleges, but we ended up breaking the 2007 record in our first run. And that motivated our team to keep pushing the limits of fuel efficiency, both on the track and in the classroom."

This year, student teams will participate in either the Prototype or UrbanConcept categories. For the Prototype category, teams will enter futuristic prototypes — streamlined vehicles that focus on maximizing fuel efficiency through innovative design elements, such as drag reduction. For the UrbanConcept category, new to the Americas event this year, teams will enter more "roadworthy" fuel-efficient vehicles. Aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers, these vehicles are closer in appearance to the higher-mileage cars seen on roads today. For both categories, teams can use any conventionally available energy source — including fuels such as diesel, gasoline and liquid petroleum gas (LPG), as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, biomass and solar.

The Shell Eco-marathon is a global mileage challenge and forum for current and future leaders who are passionate about finding sustainable solutions to the world's energy challenge. The event challenges students to design, build and test eco-friendly vehicles that travel further using less energy. From vehicle design to financing, student teams manage their projects from start to finish. The winning teams in both the Prototype and UrbanConcept categories receive a grand prize of $5,000 for their school. And this year, Shell will also have several "off-track" awards, including the Safety Award, Technical Innovation Award and Eco-friendly Award among others.

The 2009 Shell Eco-marathon Americas roster contains from North and South America including Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States. The Prototype entries include 35 vehicles powered by combustion engines, five by fuel cell/hydrogen technology, three by LPG, three by solar power, two by diesel fuel, and one by ethanol gas. The UrbanConcept entries include two vehicles powered by combustion engines and one by solar power.

For more information or a list of competing schools, visit

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