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Meet the UBC ‘supermileage’ car

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UBC students have built a new car designed to reduce fuel usage, and they’ll be taking it to Texas in April to test it against other designs.

Meet the UBC super-mileage team
Meet the UBC super-mileage team

The student-designed prototype weighs less than 200 pounds, and every component has been optimized for maximum fuel conservation.

Engineering student Ryan Gibson is one of the students in the UBC Supermileage Team, which has prepared cars for the fuel efficiency competition since 2001.

“Everything’s designed and built from scratch. (The car) is at the bottom end of size restrictions.”

–See the UBC team’s promotional video here

The vehicle will be competing in the Shell Eco-marathon competition in Houston, Texas starting April 24th, and though his team finished second last year, Gibson thinks they have a strong chance of taking home a victory.

“We’re well positioned to come in first,” he said.

The car is running in the urban concept category, which puts strict limits on design by requiring the use of regular gasoline, windshield wipers and other road car staples.

“It’s meant to simulate a commuter car. We’re not doing anything to the fuel.”

A group of 16 will be travelling to Houston, but more than 60 engineering students are part of the club.

“When you’re at the competition, everyone does everything,” Gibson added.

Nancy Peng will be driving the car in the competition, and she says the car isn’t as difficult to drive as it may appear.

“It’s surprisingly similar to a regular car,” she said.

However, she said coasting without touching the throttle is key to saving fuel.

She added that the project was very helpful for engineering students like her.

“This gives us a lot of hands-on experience.”

Gibson echoed the sentiment, remarking on its effect on the future of the participating students.

“All 60 engineers (on the team) are going to be thinking about fuel efficiency in their careers.”

However, the program is not just beneficial to the members.

Gibson says public demonstrations of the car have helped to teach passers-by about fuel efficiency.

However, members of the team downplayed the car’s place in the future of automotive design, stating that it is mainly useful as an educational tool.

Reported by Jeremy Matthews

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