By KEVIN TAN
IF YOU’RE one of those people who likes to brag about your car’s fuel efficiency, make sure you don’t get into that conversation with the students from Dhurakij Pundit University, Thailand who were at the Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2012 competition.
Why? Because they had just found a way to travel 2,903km on a single litre of fuel.
Their achievement won them the big prize in the Prototype category of the annual fuel efficiency challenge, held at the Sepang International Circuit, Selangor, last week. Dhurakij Pundit’s Luk Jao Mae Khlong Prapa team set a new record in the competition, held for the third consecutive time in Malaysia.
“We are delighted to beat our record,” said team manager Panusit Kampantong of Chiang Mai. “But we are really worried that this will be hard to improve on for next year.”
A total of 119 teams from 18 countries from all across Asia and the Middle East participated in the competition which challenged students to build the world’s most fuel-efficient vehicle.
For the first time, Shell Eco-marathon Asia 2012 also hosted participants from Lebanon, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Student teams are able to participate in either the Prototype or UrbanConcept category.The Prototype category invites students to build innovative futuristic cars focused on maximising fuel-efficiency while the UrbanConcept category challenges students to design “roadworthy” fuel-efficient vehicles – vehicles that are more practical to travel on our roads.
“It’s amazing to see how much effort and passion goes into building these vehicles. The ingenuity and creativity of our young scientists and engineers are an inspiration to us all, and shows what we might expect from cars of the future,” said Royal Dutch Shell Chief Financial officer Simon Henry.
Twenty-eight teams represented Malaysia in the marathon, making it the biggest contingent with students from Universiti Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, and Universiti Malaysia Pahang.
The Clean Vehicle Team, formed by a group of Mechanical Engineering students from University Teknologi Malaysia, were back for the third time to participate in the marathon. They won fifth place in the Prototype category.
“We started buying the parts right after the race last year, and it took us about four months to build our car,” said team driver Christine Cheah, 23. “We learned technical skills while applying everything that we learned in theory. We’ve learned management skills as well problem solving skills.”
The Clean Vehicle Team’s car was also the lightest in the category, weighing only 31kg and was able to run 330km per hour.
Shell Malaysia chairman Lain Lo said that the skill sets required to make a successful entry in the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia aren’t just limited to engineering.
“We want to give the students a sense of the real world – they learn how to project manage as well as to handle their marketing and publicity and to raise their own funds and sponsorship. Which is why these students are encouraged to work with their school mates from different faculties to help manage the project.”
“Ultimately it is our hope that during the process of participation, the students grow to be more conscious about the need for smarter transport solutions and then become ambassadors for the cause by sharing their ideas and help spread the message of conservation and sustainable mobility among their families and friends.”