Extreme Fuel Efficiency

While electric vehicles (EVs) are steadily gaining ground, the majority of the cars on the road today are still gas-powered. Gas prices, however, aren't exactly getting cheaper. So, while we work towards transitioning from fossil fuel-based vehicles to cleaner alternatives, it certainly helps to find ways to make the cars we have now more fuel efficient. Students from the Université Laval might just have a solution.

As an entry for this year's Shell Eco-marathon Americas, the Laval students developed a prototype vehicle that could run for 2,713 miles per gallon (mpg) on a Detroit, Michigan test track. Their vehicle's outstanding performance landed them this year's top trophy. The competition gives students a chance to design vehicle concepts that maximizes efficiency using various fuels, including everything from gasoline to hydrogen fuel cells.

"In winning the overall competition, Université Laval defeated 114 other rivals vying to see whose vehicle could travel the farthest distance on the equivalent of a gallon of gas," according to a press release for the event. While the Laval team's achievement was no small feat, it wasn't able to outperform last year's champion car from the University of Toronto  — which covered an astounding 3,421 mpg.

The vehicle Escorpio. Image credit: Shell-eco Marathon/Flickr

A Renewable Future

Better fuel efficiency could translate to less fossil fuel vehicle consumption. While this could count as a win for the environment, fossil fuels remain one of the leading contributors to climate-warming emissions. As such, doing away with them completely is a the ultimate goal.

While it may feel like it, it's not an impossible task: over the past months, fossil fuels are losing value in terms of price, and seeing reduced efficiency compared to their renewable counterparts. EVs, while still only covering a relatively small share of the automobile industry, are set for a major take over. The increased interest from veteran automakers like Volkswagen, Chevrolet, and Honda is a testament to the future of EVs. And soon, they may not even be the only alternatively fueled vehicles available: one automaker in China is working on a car that runs on solar power.

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