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Provo – A group of BYU engineering students has built a new super-mileage vehicle that an all-time best for BYU: 1,716 miles per gallon—or roughly the distance between Provo and Cabo, Mexico.
The team put their new model to the test in early May at the Shell Eco Marathon in Houston, Texas, where they added 400 mpg to their 2013 official tally. The students also competed in the SAE Supermileage Competition in early June, where they once again achieved the highest miles per gallon in the event.
“Our goal is to one day break the 2,000 miles to the gallon barrier, which is about 100 times more than the typical car achieves,” said student Cory Newton.
BYU's student team last year achieved the highest miles per gallon in a national competition (1,331), but took second place overall because of design technicalities.
To prepare this year, the team focused on four areas of the car:
Minimizing the rolling resistance in the tires & wheels
Increasing engine efficiency
Minimizing the aerodynamic drag
And reducing any extra weight
The group shaved off 20 extra pounds from the 2013 version, which weighed 99 pounds—22 pounds lighter than the 2012 version. Students reduced weight by redesigning the car from scratch, using a different exterior finish on the composite carbon body, and retooling the engine mount and the steering components.
According to their calculations, each dropped pound results in 10 extra miles per gallon. The students also improved the engine efficiency by installing lightweight insulation around the engine that keeps it warm while the car is coasting (in between occasional throttle bursts of energy).
“This is not a vehicle designed for luxury—it’s actually quite uncomfortable,” said team member Joseph Blanch. “It’s not built to be beautiful or fast, it’s built for one purpose: to get lots of miles per gallon.”