Fuel efficient vehicles with a distinctly Asian touch were spotted at the Sepang International Circuit on the first day of Shell Eco-marathon Asia, an event which gathered 81 student teams from10 countries in the region.
Shell Eco-marathon is a competition which challenges students to design, build and drive a vehicle that can travel the furthest distance on the least amount of fuel and lowest possible CO2 emissions. The competition has been running in Europe since 1985 and the United States since 2007, and now brought to Asia for the first time, making it a truly global event.
For the first Asian run, the students took the challenge further by designing cars which don’t just save on energy, but also express their unique Asian cultures, reflecting the region’s rich diversity.
The golden, sword-shaped car of University of Indonesia’s Dazzling Team easily caught the attention of spectators. The car’s design was inspired from the keris, an ethnic Indonesian sword. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the students believe the car’s design helped reduce air resistance through its arrow head form. “We want to be different. We want to show that we can give our best in our own way,” beams Dazzling Team’s Leader Tri Canyo Wibowo.
Thailand’s Team Inno-Gen of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang drew their inspiration from line art, a Thai form of art with elements of nature. The car’s body is bright blue and shiny, with a huge curve at the rear, resembling a wave of water. Sakaruch Chienthaworn, Inno-Gen’s Team Leader, explains, “our car runs on hydrogen fuel cells, so we wanted to put a look of nature in it.”
Other teams exemplified Asian resourcefulness in their designs. Team USM Gen 2 from University Sains Malaysia used rice sacks for the shell of their prototype vehicle. Since rice is a staple food in Malaysia, rice sacks are an abundant resource. The sacks are made of jute fiber, and therefore natural and biodegradable. “We chose this material for the shell because it is strong and light, and we considered its impact on safety and the environment,” Team Leader David Chew Vee Kuan says. He adds that they learned the technique from local boatmakers.
The Shell Eco-marathon technical team was impressed by the effort the students put into the designs of their cars, even while most of them are first-timers at the competition. “The Asian cars are extremely well-designed, and high standards were applied on its aesthetic aspects,” Norman Koch, Engine and Vehicle Technology Manager for Shell Global Solutions says.
The ability of the Asian students to think out of the box was also striking. One particular example is the remote-controlled vehicle of Pakistan’s PNEC-02. This uses wi-fi technology and allows the driver to turn it with joysticks on a remote control console, instead of a steering wheel, and stop it with the flick of a switch. This removed the need for traditional transmission systems in conventional cars that add weight, enabling the vehicle to travel further, getting more out of every drop of fuel, the students reckoned.
“These are solutions that even old-timers in Europe haven’t thought of. The students were able to come up with fresh thoughts to old problems,” Koch adds.
The students are now putting their creations on the Sepang F1 racetrack, aiming to set the first fuel efficiency record for Shell Eco-marathon Asia. They are also hoping to beat the all-time global record of 4,896 km – equivalent to travelling from Beijing to Singapore - on a single litre of fuel, which was set by Team Polyjule Polytech Nantes from France at the European edition of the Shell Eco-marathon in May.
The Shell Eco-marathon Asia winners will be awarded on July 10 in a Prize Giving Ceremony with Shell Malaysia Country Chairman Mr. Anuar Taib.
For more information on the Shell Eco-marathon, please visit www.shell.com/ecomarathon.
Regional Manager (Asia Pacific)
Group Communications Strategy