Teams compete to design and build ultra-energy-efficient cars, and then test them out on the track in a battle to find out whose bright ideas will go the furthest.

It’s inspiring thousands of science and engineering students to push energy tech beyond the boundaries of what’s possible.

Make the Future Live will once again host Shell Eco-marathon Europe in 2018, with two key competitions. In the first, drivers compete to go the farthest on the same amount of fuel. The second pits teams against each other in a race where the proven efficiency of their car has to match the speed, skill and strategy of the driver to see who can cross the finish line first.

How it works

Shell Eco-marathon gives students an engineering challenge within three areas: the style of the vehicle, the type of engine it uses, and the energy source. Each area has to be carefully considered and finely tuned to deliver the maximum levels of efficiency.

Vehicle style

Teams line up on the track for a group photo on day one of the Shell Eco-marathon Challenge Asia at Sapang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Students from Asia and the Middle East have come together to compete in the four-day event. (Rener Tan/AP Images for Shell)
A multitude of vehicles line up on the track for a group photo

UrbanConcept: vehicles that resemble familiar road cars

Prototype: ultra-efficient, lightweight vehicles

Engine type

a hydrogen Prototype vehicle competing for Team H2A from the Netherlands behind the scenes during day three of Shell Make the Future Live

Internal Combustion: powered by liquid fuels

Electric: powered by hydrogen fuel cells or lithium-based batteries

Energy source

Closeup of a driver's hands operating an energy-efficient vehicle
  1. Internal Combustion
  2. Petrol
  3. Liquid Natural Gas
  4. Ethanol
  5. Diesel
  6. Electric vehicles
  7. Hydrogen fuel cells
  8. Lithium-based batteries
Teams work on their car in the paddock during day one of Shell Make the Future Live, Thursday May 25, 2017 in London. (Ed Robinson/Shell)

Technical Inspection

Building the car is only half the journey. Before getting on to the track cars have to pass different design and engineering milestones. The last milestone is a nail biting technical inspection where Shell Eco-marathon engineers probe critical aspects of each vehicle as students wait to find out the verdict. 

For many of the student teams, this can mean pass or fail for their University courses. After a year of design, development and building, this is the final test before the competitions begin and everything is riding on the results.

Spectators can watch the technical inspection from a viewing gallery to see how each vehicle fares.

Green Team Twente from the Netherlands were announced first place winners of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell UrbanConcept category during day three of Shell Make the Future Live on Saturday, May 27, 2017 in London. (Bob Martin/Shell)

Competition time

There are two types of competition in Shell Eco-marathon Europe.

Mileage Challenge

Teams are pitted against each other over several days, battling to find out who can travel the farthest on the least amount of fuel.

Driver’s World Championship 

The most elite teams from regional UrbanConcept challenges return to the track. This time, they must combine their engineering with the skill and strategy of a race environment. The stakes are high as the winner will not only claim the title of most efficient racer, but the whole team can go on a once-in-a-lifetime experience at Maranello, the home of Ferrari.

Follow Shell Eco-marathon globally on Twitter - @Shell_Ecomar

Follow Shell Eco-marathon globally

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