While many students spend their holiday break relaxing with family and friends, an ambitious group of young inventors is spending their time preparing for the ultimate energy-efficiency challenge in 2017. The challenge? Compete against more than 1,000 students from across the Americas—including CanadaMexicoBrazil and the United States—to see which team can go the farthest distance on the least amount of fuel. The students competing in Shell Eco-marathon work to design, build and drive the world’s most energy efficient vehicle. The Université Laval team, last year’s gasoline-powered prototype category winner, attained 2,585 miles per gallon at Shell Eco-marathon Americas 2016.


April 27 – 30, 2017, Shell Eco-marathon Americas will return to the iconic “Motor City” as a featured element of a four-day festival of ideas and innovation—Make the Future Detroit. The festival, taking place at Detroit’s Cobo Center, will celebrate bright energy ideas that will inspire current and future energy solutions, offering free virtual reality experiences and hands-on science experiments for an expected crowd of more than 20,000 visitors from the Great Lakes Region.


Pamela Rosen, General Manager for Shell Eco-marathon Americas, said, “Shell Eco-marathon is a vital part of the #makethefuture campaign, which aims to celebrate some of the brightest and most exciting innovations helping to address the global energy challenge. We are thrilled to host a platform like Make the Future Detroit, where we can bring brilliant young individuals, energy entrepreneurs and global and local partners together to foster collaboration and conversations about how the world can produce and consume much more energy while emitting much less CO2, and we can all work together to find solutions.”


More than 100 student teams from nine countries across the Americas have been working for months against key milestones to plan, construct and test their ultra-energy-efficient vehicles. Their hard work will be put to the test on an urban track on a downtown Detroit street circuit during Make the Future Detroit.

Held annually in the Americas, Europe and Asia for more than 30 years, Shell Eco-marathon is one of the premier global competitions that attracts thousands of young engineers aiming to go the farthest with the least amount of fuel. Students have a year to design, build and test their vehicle before the track challenge where winning is based on streamlined design, lightweight materials and driving strategy.


Student teams can choose to participate in one of two vehicle categories: Prototype or UrbanConcept. The Prototype category challenges teams to enter futuristic-looking, streamlined vehicles designed purely to reduce friction and maximize efficiency. While the UrbanConcept category focuses on more “roadworthy” energy-efficient vehicles. For both categories in the Americas event, teams can use any of seven official energy sources, including fuels such as gasoline, diesel as well as alternative fuels such as hydrogen, ethanol, gas-to-liquid (GTL), compressed natural gas (CNG) and battery electric technologies.


Returning for the second year to the Shell Eco-marathon competition is the Drivers’ World Championship (DWC)—a head-to-head race of the UrbanConcept winners from the Americas, Asia and Europe to find the quickest and most energy-efficient driver. The winners from the DWC Regionals will compete together in London in May of 2017 to find out who is the fastest energy-efficient driver. The winning team in 2016 was awarded the exclusive opportunity of a week’s training with Scuderia Ferrari in Maranello, Italy.


Collaboration Fuels Success
Friendly competition and collaboration is central to Shell Eco-marathon Americas. Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Indiana, which has participated in the competition since its inception and has consistently led in their categories, has a history of helping other teams. Last year, these students helped provide a Detroit team with a missing spark plug and kill switch so they could pass technical inspections and compete alongside one another. Their passion also shines outside the competition, as they helped advise college students in Israel and Afghanistan on the best fuel-efficient engines, communicating primarily through Facebook messages.


Norman Koch, Global Technical Director for Shell Eco-marathon, said, “We are looking at a new generation of young scientists and engineers who crave collaboration and are motivated by their interests and inspirations. Shell Eco-marathon is the perfect platform that offers this generation meaning and purpose to innovate and to create a real impact in the world today.”


Events Leading Up to Make the Future Detroit Add Value
Over the past two years, Shell has helped shape the future of sustainable mobility in Detroit by uniting the industries and individuals that will help drive a cleaner, brighter future. Now entering its third year in Detroit, Shell continues its investment in the city by participating in events that foster dialogue about future energy challenges and near-term solutions, including:


  • The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), January 10: Shell will host a symposium to discuss the future of automotive mobility and showcase an ultra-energy efficient concept city car—the Shell Concept Car—which launched in April 2016. If it were ever to go into production, it could deliver material reductions in energy use in the road transport sector. The three-seat car is tangible proof of energy efficiency improvements that can be achieved by using cutting edge technology available today through a process of “co-engineering,” whereby vehicle body, engine design and lubricants are all created together.
  • Autopalooza Detroit: Shell is once again collaborating with the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) and the MotorCities National Heritage Area (MCNHA) to kick off Autopalooza, a series of world-class automotive cruises, races and shows throughout Metro Detroit that celebrate southeast Michigan’s automotive heritage.
  • Powering Progress Together, April 27: Shell will convene leading thinkers at this action-focused event aimed to foster conversation about future energy. The event will invite fresh thinking, and encourage collaboration, dialogue and debate.


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