2019 Retrospective and the Future of the UBC Supermileage Team

August 21 2019

It’s been a while since our last blog update. With the 2019 competition year coming to a close, we’ve reached the end of another era in Supermileage history.

With a large graduating class who have gone through countless sleepless nights and competition trials to get our vehicles ready, we had one of the strongest teams in history. Our results at Shell Eco-marathon Americas and SAE Supermileage competition confirm our efforts with some of our best results yet.

Shell Eco-Marathon

2019 Shell Eco-Marathon Team

At the Shell Eco-marathon, we achieved second place in the internal combustion engine division of the Prototype class with 1372 mpg. This is our best results at the Shell Eco-marathon! We held onto first place up until the final hour of track trials, when we were overtaken by Northern Illinois University. We were unable to get another completed run, but put up a valiant effort and we couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments.

Our newly converted battery electric Urban Concept also finished technical inspection, although was unable to record a complete run. The decision to transition towards an electric vehicle stems from a realignment of team goals to promote the future of sustainability, where EVs are becoming increasingly important in the climate fight. Throughout the competition, and the lead up, our electrical team worked day and night to get our motor controller up and running while the mechanical team worked to ensure all the mechanical systems worked flawlessly. For an ambitious project, we are happy to have passed through the technical inspection process and we’re excited to push the project to the next level next year!

The SAE Supermileage competition is a storied competition for our UBC team, with a dynasty of success back from 2003 to 2006. We stopped going to SAE Supermileage after that until 2016, where we made a resurgence as the “Best Newcomer.” You can read more about our history in the about us section!

SAE Supermileage

2019 SAE Team

Last year in 2018, we achieved 1407 mpg and 3rd place at the competition, a podium result we had been chasing for a long time. This year, with a further improved engine, aerodynamics, and tires, we felt we could push those results to the next level. Our competition, however, did not go as smoothly as we hoped. With many electrical and engine reliability issues throughout the day, after months of reliable testing, we were put on the backfoot and didn’t record a valid run until 3 pm. Our first run of 1677 mpg put us in a provisional third place. With a window of one hour, we only had time for one good run. Switching up our driving style and some minor tweaks, we recorded the last run of the competition with a mileage of 2229 mpg! This put us in second place, just 191 mpg shy of first place. Regardless, this is our best mileage aside from the legendary 2006 run and is something our entire team, and especially our graduating members, are extremely proud of.

Thank you to Jordan Fong and Cecilia Liu and their enduring leadership through this past ambitious year.

The Future

So where does that leave the team? We have many exciting projects for this coming year for our existing cars. With redesigns of the Urban Concept aerodynamic shell and steering systems for the Prototype, we’re still in the never-ending pursuit for efficiency.

But we are also looking to take on new challenges. We are planning to develop another vehicle to compete in the Shell Eco-marathon, a vehicle that is part of the team’s forward-focused realignment. For the 2019 year, we are excited to announce the initiation of development of a Prototype class vehicle in the hydrogen fuel cell division, slated to compete in the 2021 Shell Eco-marathon competition. Fuel cells are another aspect of energy storage that can be done in a clean and reusable way through the use of stored hydrogen. In terms of energy density, hydrogen is unparalleled and has many potential applications in transportation through aviation and trucking industries. There’s also potential applications for warehouse work in terms of zero emission forklifts and back-up power generation. With our foray into this class, we are again committing to our commitment to a clean future and are aiming for big results at the competition.

2019 is an exciting year and we’re continuing to look for talented engineers who will help us make our vehicles better and for new sponsors who are deeply invested in the future of climate action and how we can empower the next generation of engineers. If you are excited about what’s to come, check out how you can help by joining our team or by sponsoring our projects.

2019 Early Recruitment (Deadline September 2nd):

Application Survey