94 student teams from 12 countries all over Asia hit the tracks of Sepang International Circuit (SIC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 8-9, 2011 to begin the Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2011 in a bid to set new records and meet the challenge to design, build and run a vehicle that can travel the farthest distance using the least amount of fuel.

Vehicles come in an assortment of shapes, colors and sizes, from conventional looking vehicles to out-of-the-box creations, expressing the youth’s creativity and innovation.

Out of the 20 teams from Pakistan who were shortlisted for the event based on their eco-vehicles design and fuel saving technology, 9 were able to transport their vehicles to Kuala Lumpur to participate in the event. These teams are from leading universities in Pakistan such as National University of Science and Technology, The Ghulam Ishak Khan Institute of Technology, University of Engineering Lahore, NED University of Engineering and Technology, Air University and the HITEC University of Engineering and Management Sciences.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Sarim Sheikh Country Chairman for Shell Pakistan stated that “for Shell, the Eco-marathon is a visible demonstration of our commitment to face the growing demand for energy in a responsible way. It also underlines the continued importance of innovation for us. The greatest challenge facing society today is the development of technology that will allow us to meet the energy challenge in a sustainable manner.” He also said that the youth of Pakistan have a key role to play in devising these solutions.

Students will put these vehicles to the test in two categories: “Prototype” – futuristic, streamlined vehicles focused on maximizing fuel-efficiency through innovative design elements – and “UrbanConcept” – more conventional four-wheeled fuel-efficient vehicles suited to the needs of today’s drivers.

For both categories, teams entered their vehicles in two classes – electric mobility and internal combustion. Under the electric mobility class – a new category introduced this year – vehicles can use a number of energy sources: hydrogen fuel cells, solar and “plug-in” battery. In the internal combustion class, teams may use fuels such as gasoline, diesel, gas to liquids (GTL) and FAME.

A diverse batch of students has overcome the challenges of transporting their vehicles to get to SIC, eager to beat last year’s record set by a team from Thailand of 1,521.9 kilometres on a litre of fuel, which would be enough to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok.

This is the second year of the Asian edition of Shell Eco-marathon. Last year Pakistan had the largest contingent of students at the event with 20 teams. The event has been running in Europe since 1985 and the United States since 2007, and was held for the first time in Asia at Sepang last year. Bringing the competition to Asia has made the programme a truly global initiative for Shell.