Shell Eco-marathon

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The Shell Eco-Marathon is an annual competition sponsored by Shell, in which participants build special vehicles to achieve the highest possible fuel efficiency. The Eco-Marathon is held around the world with events in Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Japan, and the USA. The event also used to take place in the UK until 2010. On 2013, the event also would have taken place in Malaysia, however due to the 2013 Southeast Asian haze the event has been cancelled and will be held in the Philippines on 2014.[1]

The events are entered by a range of participants from enthusiastic amateurs to university teams and major motor manufacturers with a variety of designs.

A world record was set by a French team in 2003 called Microjoule with a performance of 10,705 mpg-imp (0.02639 L/100 km; 8,914 mpg-US).[2] The current record is 12,665 mpg-US (0.018572 L/100 km; 15,210 mpg-imp), set in 2005 by the PAC-Car II. The world record in diesel efficiency was achieved by the Spanish team of the politechnical University of Valencia in 2010 with 1396.8 kilometres per litre. In contrast, the most efficient diesel passenger cars achieve 60 mpg-US (4 L/100 km; 72 mpg-imp), and some high-powered sports cars achieve as little as 8 mpg-US (29 L/100 km; 10 mpg-imp).[3]


The event's history stretches back over seventy years. In 1939, a group of Shell scientists based in a research laboratory in Wood River, Illinois, USA, had a friendly bet to see who could drive their own car furthest on one gallon of fuel.[4] At the time, 21.12 km/L (59.7 mpg-imp; 49.7 mpg-US) was the best that could be achieved. More event history is discussed and includes photos at a search for Shell Fiat. The search will yield a site labeled 59fiattestcar.[5] The info is to further document the history of Shell's interest in fuel economy runs. And includes the vehicles of honorable mention which won races and obtained record status. Further explanation is included on how the original races were titled Shell Mileage Marathons and held yearly at the annual company picnics. Site makes references to the three vehicles listed below and more that were used in the races.

Other Achievements:

  • 149.95 MPG with a 1947 Studebaker in 1949
  • 244.35 MPG with a 1959 Fiat 600 in 1968
  • 376.59 MPG with a 1959 Opel in 1973.

That idea was the foundation for the first international competition held in Mallory Park in the UK in 1977, (1976 international competition "Pisaralla Pisimmälle" was held in Finland (Keimola)).

Over the past 30 years, fuel economy has improved dramatically.

The current European Shell Eco-marathon [1] record for a combustion engine entry was set in 2004 by the team from Lycée La Joliverie (France) at 3,410 km on the equivalent of a single litre of fuel. For prototype vehicles using fuel cells, the record is even more impressive. In 2005, the hydrogen-powered vehicle built by Swiss team ETH Zurich achieved a projected 3,836 km on the equivalent of a single litre of fuel. This is the equivalent of driving from Paris to Moscow.

According to a Sunday, March 31, 2013 online Associated Press (AP) article that appeared on the Peoria Journal Star's website, for the 2013 Shell Eco-Marathon competition in Houston, Texas, the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette reported that a group of students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (with a $56,000 budget and support from the College of Engineering and several corporations) has designed a two-passenger car, with a hydrogen fuel cell (and with a chassis weighing less than 70 pounds), that could potentially reach a fuel efficiency level of up to 100 miles per gallon.[6]


The Eco-Marathon has different classes of competition: Fuel cell-powered, solar cell-powered, gasoline-fueled, diesel-fueled, and LPG-fueled. During the competition, cars must attain an average speed of at least 15 mph (23 km/h) over a distance of 10 miles (16 km). The course is typically a motor racing track—for the pan-European meet, the Circuit Paul Armagnac in Nogaro, France,The UK event no longer takes place but was formerly held at Rockingham in Northampton, and in the Americas the competition formerly used the course at the California Speedway in Fontana. Though now the Americas automobile competition takes place at Discovery Green in Houston, Texas. The fuel is strictly measured out for each entrant. At the end of the course, the amount of fuel used is measured; from that figure, fuel economy is calculated.

The marathon includes a set of rules to create a set of safe conditions for the event. Some of the rules for the event may encourage participants to enter vehicles that use hydrocarbon-based fuel sources. For instance, the Eco-marathon places solar-powered vehicles in their own class and are excluded from winning the $10,000 grand prize.


The top performing vehicles are specially designed for high efficiency. Some vehicles use a coast/burn technique whereby they briefly accelerate from 10 to 20 mph (from 16 to 32 km/h) and then switch the engine off and coast for approximately 2 minutes until the speed drops back down to 10 mph (16 km/h). This process is repeated resulting in average speed of 15 mph for the course. Typically the vehicles have:

The vehicles are highly specialized and optimized for the event and are 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. The work of the participants can be used to show ways manufacturers could redesign their products.

Teams who have participated in the competition include


External links[edit]