The point of the "Urban Concept" class is to create vehicles that are more fuel-efficient, yet that resemble cars seen on roads today.
Teams can use conventional energy sources such as diesel, gasoline and liquid petroleum gas, as well as alternative fuels like hydrogen, biomass and solar.
Cars of the future
The high school, university and college students that have registered for the Eco-marathon can also choose the prototype category.
Here, they will be asked to develop futuristic prototypes: compact aerodynamic vehicles that maximize fuel efficiency.
Last year, the Mater Die High School team, from Evansville, Indiana, broke a new record. Their prototype could travel 1,208.6 kilometers per litre.
Teams are now invited to register for the event, which will start on April 15th 2009 and end on the 18th. The contest will be held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
"The Shell Eco-marathon offers young people interested in technology, energy and transportation a unique, hands-on opportunity to stretch the boundaries of fuel efficiency," declared Mark Singer, Shell Eco-marathon global project manager.
"Adding the 'Urban Concept' category to the Americas event in 2009 is a visible demonstration of our deep commitment to face the global demand for energy head-on and an invitation for others to do the same. We look forward to seeing these vehicles on the track and, one day, powered by environmentally friendly fuels out on the road," he added.
The first five teams in Canada to register for the prototype or Urban Concept categories could receive $5,000 USD each. However, to be eligible for this incentive, teams must complete the first phase of registration and pass vehicle inspection at the 2009 Shell Eco-marathon.
The event began as a wager between scientists. It was first held in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the United States. The best mileage achieved during that competition? 21 km/l!
For more information, rules and registration, visit www.shell.com/ecomarathon.