Everyone wants to save money on gas. You could even argue that when you are buying a new car you're thinking about gas and fuel-efficiency. Now imagine going to the car dealership and the sales person offers you a car that can go 408 miles per gallon... Which means basically that you could go from Rexburg to Salt Lake and then back and spend less than $5 on gas. Sounds awesome right? Well, here's the catch. There's no room in the weight budget for stereo systems, GPS, Bluetooth... seating for more than the driver, traditional doors, or the ability to sit upright. But if you're willing to live with that, there's a group of BYU-Idaho students who built a car that would give you just that.
"So it looks a little bit like a fish," said Justin Miller a faculty member in the automotive program at BYU-Idaho and advisor to the Society of Automotive Engineers on campus. "It has to have all kinds of safety features though. The requirements are that they have seat belts and fire extinguishers. They have to pass breaking and steering tests. They have a lot of constraints on them when they are creating this vehicle. But still the goal is to make it light, roll well, and make it aerodynamic so that it just sips the fuel."
Earlier this month he and a team of students took their car to the SAE Supermileage Competition in Michigan and received 11th place. "They were thrilled," he said. "There was a lot of ups and downs. Initially there was a crash that damaged the vehicle and students right there on the spot had to fix it and get it repaired. There was a period of discouragement where they thought it was all over and they would have to go home. In the end they made it happen and had a great afternoon. They all went home ecstatic about what they had accomplished."
This was the first year any BYU-Idaho student on the team competed in the 9.6 mile competition. So they received the Rookie of the Year Award and won third place in the innovative design competition. They won a total of $1,350 which Miller says will help fund the car for next year's competition which is happening in 12 months. "12 months isn't enough time but I think that's the whole point," Miller said. "It's a very real world experience where students are dealing with time restraints, budget restraints, and the reality where things don't always go as planned. If it is successful, they will feel really good about what they have accomplished because it wasn't simple or easy."