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High School Team Tops SAE Supermileage with 1,836 MPG


Mater Dei High School of Evansville, Ind., finished first at the recent SAE 2005 Supermileage competition, posting a top fuel economy of 1,836 miles per gallon (mpg). The University of British Columbia finished first in the collegiate division with a top fuel economy of 1,608 mpg. Both schools have won first place overall in the competition for two consecutive years.

The Mater Dei team had also taken first place just a few weeks before in the Indiana Mathematics, Science and Technology Education Alliance (IMSTEA) Super Mileage Challenge with an average 1,015.60 mpg over three runs. (The picture above, right shows both cars used in the IMSTEA challenge; for the SAE Supermileage Challenge, the entry was the car on the left.)

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) began its Supermileage competition in 1980 as a means of generating awareness of fuel economy to the public. (Note the timing: in the midst of the Iranian oil crisis.) Competitors are challenged to build a one-person, fuel-efficient vehicle around a small, four-cylinder engine then demonstrate its fuel efficiency by traveling 9.6 miles on an oval track while maintaining a speed of at least 15 miles per hour. The team whose vehicle achieves the highest amount of miles per gallon wins the event.

This year, 28 collegiate teams and eight high school teams entered the competition. Mishawaka High School of Mishawaka, Ind., finished second in the high school division with 972 mpg and South Spencer High School of Rockport, Ind. rounded out the top three with a finish of 756 mpg. The second place finish in the collegiate division went to the University of Quebec of Canada with 1,584 mpg and Ivy Tech State College of Evansville, Ind., finished third with 1,529 mpg for their vehicle.

Ubc_supermileage Ubc_supermileage_cutaway
UBC Entry UBC Entry with top shell removed

The University of British Columbia team entry rides extremely low with its wheels totally encased in a teardrop-shaped 3-ply carbonfiber body, powered by a reduced-displacement (48cc), fuel-injected engine. The vehicle features an aluminum honeycomb chassis with a carbon fiber body that achieves a drag coefficient of only 0.11. (By comparison, the aerodynamic Honda Insight has a drag coefficient of 0.25, and the ideal teardrop shape has a drag coefficient of about 0.04).

The  team spent significant  time in the wind tunnel and in CAD programs to reduce the Cd to 0.11. The UBC entry in 2003/2004 had a Cd of 0.17.

(A hat-tip to Ernie Rogers!)


  • Supermileage 2005 results

  • Mater Dei Supermileage team website

  • University of British Columbia Supermileage website



Good thing the High school kids are getting involved in something like this. What bugs me is this competition has been going on for so long and still our fuel consumtion is increasing greatly. Its becoming more of a racing spectacle rather than real technology engine for real production cars just like F1, but this time its fuel economy. The truth is when these bright kids get into the automotive world it back to the inefficient cars as usual.

What I would like to see is a brave entrepreneur gather these fresh talents and build a production car using their experience and an entirely different process and marketing online where most of the people knowledgeable about greeness would be. There's huge opprtunity here, if only someone can see it. the big automakers don't care about stuff like this anyway so don't expect them to act. We are the ones that need to act.


Hi. I'm Vanessa I'm the co-captain of Chesterton High School's Supermileage Team. We are having some trouble figuring out make it easier to start our engine from inside the vehicle. If you have any suggestions please let me know.

[email protected]


pull start try using a hand crank with a weighted flywheel and a clutch kind of like the toy cars that use a flywheel to store the energy created by pushing the car this might work in the limited space u have. connect this to the pull rope, or use a spring loaded hand crank wind spring then pull a lever to release spring.


a simpler idea would be to get an extra long pull rope run it through metal eyes(like in a fishing pole) to somewhere where the driver can reach it. set the pull handle slighly in front of drivers shouldler at or below shoulder height . the driver would have to push the pull rope forward(in a punching motion)


hey. my high school team and i are looking for ways to make our car lighter and does anyone know if there is a way to put two gears onto a car, one for taking off and the other for running speeds? it is our second year and we need some help.


hello im from india some of the guys in our college are making our plans to compete in supermilaege car event in 2008. Can u guys pls help us out with the procedure we should go through.

WE are some students interested in supermileage challenge.Let us know if these contests take place in non-USA countries too.Also my e-mail on yahoo is: [email protected] Tahnk you


Hello, i am a student in High school and i am interested in this. But i need a team, so how do you think i can get people to be interested in this concept?


me and a class are doind two high milage cars and we are looking for good ideas

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