For its efforts, the team, with the same driver as last year in the single-occupancy car, won a $1,500 cash prize. The university beat out 17 teams from the US as well as another five from Canada. Specifically, Université Laval bested Brigham Young University's 1,244 mpg and Northern Illinois University's 1,057 mpg. Those teams were followed up by Michigan Technological University and two teams from Penn State Erie, the Behrend College. That last school had bragging rights in 2012 and 2013, and one of its teams stirred things up by going semi-hybrid by installing an electric transmission on one of the cars. Still, that car got "just" 479 mpg. When it came to best design honors, University of South Alabama topped that list, followed up by one of the Penn State Erie teams and UCLA.
The team from Université Laval said it cut the vehicle's weight this year by as many as three pounds. The students also upgraded the car's fuel line as well as its electronic system and clutch system. The two-day event took place at Eaton's Proving Grounds in Michigan. Take a look at SAE International's press release below.
WARRENDALE, Pa., June 25, 2015 - Université Laval from Quebec, Canada, achieved 2098 mpg with its student-designed and -built vehicle to win the 36th SAE Supermileage competition, held June 4-5 at Eaton's Proving Grounds in Marshall, MI. Two other college teams achieved more than 1000 mpg with their single-occupant vehicles powered by one-cylinder, four-cycle engines.
A total of 23 collegiate teams (17 from the U.S. and six from Canada) competed this year, most of which achieved at least 200 mpg. In addition to the fuel-economy results, teams were also rated on the design of their vehicles, prompting an aggregate score that was used to determine the overall winners. The Université Laval team was the overall winner, receiving a total score of 2453 (2098 mpg plus its design report score of 355). The team won $1500 and will be recognized at the SAE 2015 Commercial Vehicle Engineering Congress held Oct. 6-8 in Rosemont, IL.
This marked Université Laval's second straight victory at the event and fifth win in the past eight years. On day one of the competition, the team benefited from having the driver for this year's vehicle and the winning driver from 2014 walk the track and analyze its layout.
"The fact that we had last year's driver helped a lot," said team manager Bruno Désaulniers. "We had a new driver and she had been advised by our former pilot who had already made the run, so we wasted no time to know and understand the track and when to accelerate. The driver can make a very big difference in the result, but also a good race strategy is extremely important. We calculate at what speed the driver must start the engine to reduce energy loss."
The shell from last year's winning entry was reused, enabling the team to focus on other areas of refinement for the 2015 vehicle.
"One of our main goals is to reduce the vehicle weight," Désaulniers said. "The fact we reuse the shell from last year gives us time to optimize other parts of the car by doing FEA and trying to make them from aluminum. We had been able to reduce approximately the total weight by 2-3 lb."
Other changes to this year's car included the clutch system, the electronic system, and fuel line.
"There was a significant decrease in the energy loss due to the clutch. Also the electronic system and the fuel line were more reliable than the previous year's," Désaulniers said. "We also changed the rear sprocket to get a better ratio between the engine and the rear wheel."
Brigham Young University was second with a total score of 1609 (1244 mpg and 365 for design). Northern Illinois University was third with a total score of 1400 (1057 mpg and 343 for design). These schools received $1200 and $900, respectively.
Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, winner of the 2012 and 2013 competitions, attempted something different with one of its two entries at this year's Supermileage competition—an electric transmission-equipped vehicle.
"To the best of our knowledge, no one had ever attempted a hybrid car before. It was a huge undertaking for the people on our team," said Cody Colpo, a recent mechanical engineering graduate.
Penn State Behrend's belt-drive vehicle finished in fifth place, getting 564 mpg, while the hybrid vehicle finished in sixth place with 479 mpg. The hybrid vehicle also earned second place in the design report part of the competition.
"For the hybrid car, we knew it was so different that we really just wanted it to pass the technical inspection process and make a successful fuel economy run, which it did, so we were happy," said Katie Burbules, who also graduated this spring with a degree in mechanical engineering.
With further optimization, Colpo and Burbules believe the hybrid's potential is even greater, possibly eclipsing the mpg achieved with its previous belt-drive winning entries.
"The rough calculations for efficiency say it should be able to do one-and-a-half to two times as well as a belt-drive vehicle," Colpo said.
"The other members really want to focus on troubleshooting and perfecting the hybrid design," Burbules said. "Taking the time to fine-tune the engine will have a significant effect."
mpg Design Report Total Score
1 Universite' Laval 2098 355 2453
2 Brigham Young University 1244 365 1609
3 Northern Illinois University 1057 343 1400
4 Michigan Technological University 793 360 1153
5 Penn State Univ.- Behrend College, Blue 564 355 919
6 Penn State Univ.- Behrend College, White 479 405 884
7 Milwaukee School of Engineering 591 250 841
8 Concordia University 577 263 840
9 University of Ottawa 451 385 836
10 Rowan University 413 355 768
1 University of South Alabama
2 Penn State Univ.- Behrend College, White
3 University of California - Los Angeles
Lawrence Technological University
BEST DESIGN EXECUTION
Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University
BEST DEMONSTRATED OVERALL TEAM ATTITUDE
California State University - Los Angeles
CLOSEST PREDICTED TO ACTUAL FUEL ECONOMY