With unleaded gasoline selling for around $3.40 a gallon, the Wisconsin high school’s Supermileage Vehicle Club could make just about any driver happy.
The eight-member engineering class/student club, which is in its third year, entered two gas-powered super-mileage vehicles built in two fuel-efficiency competitions this spring.
160 miles per gallon!
One of the vehicles, a one-seat, three-wheeled model that students built last year, got 160 miles per gallon in a competition last spring. (To compare, the average for a U.S. passenger car is 22.4 mpg).
This year, the club made changes with a goal of squeezing an extra 10 to 20 mpg out of it, its members said. Meanwhile, the club finished a new three-wheeled vehicle that is lighter and sleeker, with a more fuel-efficient motor.
“We’re really, really excited to see how both vehicles will run, especially the new one,” said Max Ylvisaker, who was captain of the club this year.
Ylvisaker and the club competed this spring in two competitions sponsored by the Wisconsin Energy Efficient Vehicle Association.
The point of the competitions and the focus of the Supermileage Vehicle Club is straightforward, said Joe Mink, a technology teacher who helps with the club.
“I tell the students that I need a vehicle to get me from point A to point B safely and efficiently,” Mink said.
The tough part is actually doing it.
A class and a club
Edgerton’s Supermileage Vehicle Club is a fall-semester, for-credit course that turns into a club activity in the spring. Students who take the class spend countless hours engineering, designing, building and rebuilding one-seat vehicles.
The project starts with a frame and wheels and gets more complex with work on the other elements of a car, including the engine and streeting system. Students use science and math to make sure their choices use the least gas possible. Ylvisaker said little things such as a tire rubbing on the frame can kill gas mileage.
The club has taken its best ideas from last year and rolled the knowledge into designs for a new car, Ylvisaker said. The new model sits lower and has a more efficient engine, improved gearing and better brakes. Plus, it’s 10 pounds lighter. The club cut weight by covering the vehicle with plastic boat shrink-wrap.
Classwork in action
Mink said that the club requires students to use math and science, but even English comes into play. Because the club is funded mainly through private donations of money, equipment and materials, the club spends hours writing letters that explain their project to potential investors.
Mink said many former members have told him the club made them want to go into engineering.
— Associated Press