Paris to Tehran on a litre of petrol at 'green' car rally

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It's a motor rally with a difference: souped-up "green" vehicles going head to head in an international eco-marathon to see who runs the longest on as little energy as possible.

Germany's Eurospeedway Lausitz, around 130 kilometres (80 miles) south of Berlin, is hosting the Shell Eco-marathon this week where nearly 3,000 participants are putting the world's most fuel-efficient vehicles to the test.

On three wheels or four, and running on solar power, electricity or standard fuels, the around 200 energy-efficient vehicles were designed and built by teams of school and university students from 26 countries.

The winner of the three-day rally, to be crowned on Saturday, will go the farthest using the least amount of energy.

The competition is divided into two categories: urban concept, in which the vehicles look fairly similar to existing cars, and prototypes, featuring futuristic new beasts of the road.

Some teams have been here all week, allowing them to test out their lean, mean, green machines on the track and find any dead weight or friction.

"It's a major concern all over the world, to reduce greenhouse gases and consumption of fuel and go for new modes of energy," said Farid Touati, representing the team from Qatar University.

"That is why we are here today: to participate, to learn from the expertise of teams from all over the world."

Touati said his team was also considering competing in to the next Shell Eco-marathon in Asia, in Kuala Lumpur from July 6 to 9, with their solar prototype and an urban concept.

Organisers say the aim is to give a dash of fun to what will be one of the fundamental challenges of industrialised societies in the coming years.

"A variety of fuels and techniques will be needed to meet the growing demand for mobility, while limiting CO2 emissions," said Peter Voser, chief executive of Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell, which sponsors the rally.

"Innovation in technology is important in helping us to deliver smarter products, smarter use and smarter infrastructure."

Each vehicle has four tests over the three days. The prototypes complete eight laps (about 25 kilometres) and the so-called "urban concepts" six (around 20 kilometres).

On this basis, referees tally up how far they could have gone on a litre of petrol, or its equivalent in renewable energy.

"The Lausitz track is fantastic, and the temperature is ideal - between 20 and 25 degrees (Celsius, 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) but there's too much wind for a record," said Philippe Maindru, teacher at the La Joliverie secondary school in western France.

But with the sun baking on the tarmac, "the temperature inside (the car) can rise to 50 degrees", said one of the students on the team, concerned about his friend who has just enough room to lie down in the cabin of his flying white arrow proudly emblazoned with the number one.

La Joliverie has held the world record since 2009 for the longest distance "travelled" on one litre of fuel: 3,771 kilometres, which would get the French students almost to Baghdad.

However the all-time record for the Shell Eco-marathon, launched in 1985 in southern France, was set last year by a team coached by Maindru using a prototype hydrogen fuel cell, which "travelled" 4,896 kilometres - nearly the distance from Paris to Tehran.

Mustering 3,682 kilometres using fuel and 4,397 kilometres using a hydrogen cell during the first of their four official tests, the students from Nantes have already set the bar high.

Maindru is convinced they could hit the 6,000-kilometre mark with the hydrogen cell prototype in less blustery conditions.

The urban concept vehicles, which are not as aerodynamic, post less flashy but still impressive records: 1,246 kilometres for a hydrogen-powered car from Norway, 589 kilometres for a petrol-driven car from Denmark.


  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

    £26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

    Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

    £24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions