Houston, Texas – Student teams from six Canadian schools are among the contestants in the 2010 Shell Eco-marathon, which will run March 26 to 28 in Houston, Texas. Fifty vehicles representing 43 student teams from the U.S., Canada and Italy will take part in the competition, which requires university and high school students to design, build and test a vehicle that travels the farthest distance using the least amount of energy.

Students in the 2010 competition will be trying to beat the 1,172.2 kilometres per litre (2,757.1 mpgUS) achieved in 2009 by Quebec’s Laval University.

“By participating in the Shell Eco-marathon Americas, our team gets to take part in a rewarding program that helps us and other teams push the boundaries of fuel efficiency,” said Maxime Lavigueur, of the Laval University team. “We’re excited to get to the course in Houston and see if we can beat the mileage our team achieved last year. We’re also really looking forward to seeing what the other teams built for 2010. We all bring different knowledge to the competition and getting to see what the other teams design is a big part of the fun.”

The new venue in Houston, after three years of the event being held in Southern California, will mark the first time the challenge will be held on a street track instead of a racetrack. It is also open to the public for the first time this year.

Students can participate in either the Prototype category, which involves futuristic prototypes, or the Urban Concept category, which focuses on more roadworthy vehicles that are aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers and are closer in appearance to the higher-mileage cars seen on roads today. In both categories, teams can use any conventionally available energy source, including diesel, gasoline, liquid petroleum gas, hydrogen, biomass and solar. The winning teams in each category receive a grand prize of US$5,000 for their schools.

The Canadian competitors include Dalhousie University in Halifax; Ecole de technologie superieure in Montreal; Universite Laval in Quebec; University of Ottawa; University of Toronto; and University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

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