In 2010, a small group of University of Michigan students formed a team with the goal of designing the most fuel-efficient internal combustion concept car in North America. These original eleven students attempted to answer one question: what would it take to create a vehicle capable of achieving over 3,000 miles per gallon? When our team came into being, the North American record was 3,169 mpg, and we knew that our challenge was to beat that record and to achieve competitive success in fuel economy competitions such as SAE Supermileage (our namesake competition) and the Shell EcoMarathon.
As a University of Michigan student engineering team, we work in the Wilson Student Team Project Center, a modern facility that gives us the space and the tools we need to create a world-class vehicle. Every year, we create an entirely new car, which requires detailed planning and tight scheduling. The vehicle is built from the ground up, with every component from the carbon fiber shell to the steering system to the electric wiring made in house, by students. This year marks a new direction for Supermileage: our goal is now to focus on creating an efficient electric vehicle, with continuing research into gasoline motors on the side.
Our team competes annually in the Shell Eco-marathon: a high school and collegiate competition hosted by Shell Global. It is held in nearby Detroit, MI in April. The competition is held over three days and involves intense rounds of Technical Inspections followed by Indoor Track Testing, and finally a race down Woodward Ave. The Eco-marathon consists of two categories, Prototype and Urban Concept, and allows for energy types ranging from gasoline to electric to hydrogen powered. This year Supermileage will enter in the Prototype category and race an electric vehicle.