During the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE) Supermileage® competition, co-produced with power management company Eaton, a team of students from Université Laval in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, placed first and set the all-time North American record by achieving 3,788 miles per gallon (mpg) with their student-designed and built vehicle, topping the record of 3,587 mpg the same team set in 2013.
The vehicle, dubbed L’Alérion Supermileage, only weighs 211 pounds and was built with a prepreg carbon fiber monocoque. The vehicle rode on two front wheels and one rear wheel, all of which were made with composites to reduce rolling resistance.
This marks the third consecutive year students from Université Laval have won the competition. This year, the L’Alérion Supermileage efficiency topped that of the second place team, from Penn State University, by 860 mpg. No other team topped 2,000 mpg.
“I can’t count the number of hours we put into this. Overall, I think we had a good idea, good design and good team,” said Julien St. Hilaire, a Université Laval team member. “We really like this event and our school recognizes it as an important part of our engineering program. Eaton’s test track is awesome. It’s really smooth and allows us to get the most out of our vehicles.”
Jim Gluys, an engineering specialist at Eaton, said that the results of this competition have the potential to be applied in the real world automotive market. The competition is in its 37th year and is held to generate public awareness for high-mileage, fuel-efficient vehicles and encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Participants are encouraged to use advanced materials and technologies, such as composites, as well as design creativity and imagination, to optimize the fuel efficiency of their vehicles as they travel around Eaton’s 1.6-mile test track.
“Fuel economy is a big emphasis of this event,” said Gluys “The students interested in this are going to put us in 50 mpg cars. They are the engineers of the future.”