The annual Supermileage engineering competition begins tomorrow at the Eaton Corporation Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan. The competition's goal is to build the most fuel-efficient one-person vehicle based around a small, four-cycle engine. The vehicles are "raced" not against the clock but against the gas meter. 29 college teams and 12 high school teams will compete this year. Defending champion the college teams is the University of British Columbia with 1,608 MPG. The high school defending champions are from Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Ind., with 1,836 MPG.
The Supermileage contest was started by the Society of Automotive Engineers
in 1980 and now includes teams from both college and high school engineering classes. The contest has resulted in plenty of sleek prototypes, such as the 2002 winner from UC Berkeley, pictured above. The vehicle was nicknamed the "carbon coffin" and got 1068 MPG.