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Eco Illini team takes first, sets school record

4/18/2019

Stefanie Anderson

Earlier this month the Eco Illini and Illini EV Concept teams traveled to Sonoma, California, to participate in the Shell Eco-Marathon Americas competition. At the competition, Eco Illini was awarded first place among the 22 teams that participated. Their efficiency of 152 mi/kWh, approximately 5,123 miles per-gallon-equivalent, also set a new school record.

Eco Illini car
Eco Illini car
The Shell Eco-Marathon competition tasks teams with achieving their highest efficiency using their specific type of energy. Both Eco Illini and Illini EV Concept participated as Battery Electric vehicles. This year was Eco Illini’s first time with an all-electric drivetrain, having previously competed with an internal combustion engine.

The Eco Illini team competes in the Prototype Vehicle category, which asks teams to put efficiency above all else. The Illini EV Concept team competes in the UrbanConcept category, which requires teams to make a car that not only is fuel efficient but also mimics the everyday car. Although in separate categories, the two teams helped each other develop their electric drivetrains.

Unfortunately, at competition Illini EV Concept ran into technical issues and were unable to complete a run.

Eco Illini and Illini EV Concept cars
Eco Illini and Illini EV Concept cars
“I was very impressed and proud of both teams.  They worked tirelessly to tackle numerous technical challenges,” said faculty adviser Michael Philpott.

Eco Illini president Joseph Grigus was excited to see the team’s hard work pay off.

“We are very proud of our team and all their efforts. When we began developing an electric drivetrain with Illini EV Concept at the beginning of the year, we never thought in just one year we could get this far. This shows that the hard work of our members paid off this year.

While this marks the end of competition season for the Concept team, Eco Illini plans to compete in the SAE Supermileage competition in early June.

“We are ambitiously looking to the future. We have another competition where we are running our gas engine and we aim to be top five in that one. Next year, we are looking to design a new car and aim to stay ahead of the competition at Shell and break into the top three at SAE Supermileage,” Grigus said.