Canadian student team hits 4,113mpg in SAE/Eaton mileage contest

Canadian student team hits 4,113mpg in SAE/Eaton mileage contest

Université Laval wins SAE Supermileage for fourth consecutive year.


Cleveland, Ohio – So you’re looking for an incredibly fuel-efficient car, but you don’t like electric vehicles or hybrids? Well, you can get the Chevy Cruze diesel with 52mpg highway. Oh, no diesels? How about the Mitsubishi Mirage with 43mpg highway?

More miles per gallon? A lot more?

Does 4,113mpg from a conventional engine grab you?

Just to warn you, there are some sacrifices. There’s no room in the weight budget for stereo systems, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity… seating for more than the driver, traditional doors, any level of safety systems, or the ability to sit upright. But if you’re willing to live with that, there’s a group of Canadian college students who will invite you out to kick the tires.

On second thought, you can’t kick the tires. They’re covered by composite wheel wells to cut down on wind resistance, and they’re thin, spindly things that could break if you kick hard enough.

A student team from Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, won the SAE Supermileage challenge, the 38th running of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)’s contest, hosted and sponsored by Eaton.

The first team to break 2,000mpg (in 2014) and the only team to cross 3,000mpg, Université Laval’s 4,113mpg shattered last year’s incredible 3,788mpg rating. Topping 4,000mpg won the team its fourth consecutive challenge at Eaton’s Proving Grounds in Marshall, Michigan, during the June 8-9, 2017 weekend.

“Our performance this year is the fruit of several months of meticulous and arduous work. This year, the team focused on experimental tests,” said Mathieu Pouliot, technical director for the Université Laval team. “This allowed us not only to obtain a high level of reliability from the vehicle, but also to build on our understanding of the system’s behavior. With this knowledge, we could take full advantage of our vehicle’s potential.”

Participants are encouraged to use advanced materials and technologies, as well as their design creativity and imaginations, to get the most out of their vehicles over the 9.6-mile course – six times around Eaton’s 1.6-mile test track.

“This event is a great opportunity to showcase the skills and determination of the next generation of engineers and to introduce them to Eaton and the opportunities available here,” said Jim Gluys, Eaton Supermileage Event Manager, 2004 – 2017. “The students participating in this year’s competition certainly raised the bar, achieving results that are truly impressive. They’re the engineers of the future.”

A total of 16 collegiate teams (11 from the U.S. and 5 from Canada) competed this year. From Michigan, three collegiate teams participated – Lawrence Technological University, Michigan Technological University and University of Detroit Mercy.

Supermileage is a part of SAE’s Collegiate Design Series. In addition to hosting Supermileage, Eaton is providing financial and technical support to a student-engineering team from Western Michigan University that will design and develop a vehicle to compete against other student teams in the American Solar Challenge competition this year.

About the author: Robert Schoenberger is the editor of Today's Motor Vehicles and a contributor to Today's Medical Developments and Aerospace Manufacturing and Design. He has written about the automotive industry for more than 17 years at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio; The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky; and The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi.