Sarnia high schoolers unveil hyper-efficient car set to hit California track

Students from Northern Collegiate in Sarnia unveiled their latest hyper-efficient car at Wednesday's Sarnia Sting game. It's set to hit the track at the Shell Eco Marathon in California next month.

Northern Collegiate is the only Canadian high school to compete in this year's Shell Eco Marathon

This hyper-efficient car developed by students from Northern Collegiate in Sarnia is set to hit the track at the Shell Eco Marathon in California next month. (Maria Peregoudov/Northern Eco Team)

A new car was unveiled at the Sarnia Sting game Wednesday night — but it wasn't the latest model from GM, Chrysler or Ford.

It was a hyper fuel-efficient vehicle built by students at Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School in Sarnia, Ont. Next month, it will hit the track at the Shell Eco-marathon Americas in Sonoma, Calif.

Northern is the only Canadian high school taking part in the competition, which challenges student teams from across North and South America to build ultra-efficient vehicles.

The school's participation began four years ago, when teacher Doug McArthur took 140 students to take in the Shell Eco Marathon in Detroit, Mich. After the event, McArthur recruited students to start a school team.

This year marks the third time the school has entered the competition, which primarily consists of teams from universities and colleges.

The Northern Collegiate team at the 2017 Shell eco-marathon Americas in Detroit, Mich. (Northern Eco Team/Facebook)

"Since we're going against university kids, I look at it as how much these kids can learn throughout the 10 months," McArthur explained. "We're about the middle of the pack at the competition, so we beat many other universities ... but our main focus is 'how can I help the kids learn much more, and how can I help steer them to a different career path in life?'"

Grade 12 Maria Peregoudov has been involved with the team since the beginning, and is also the driver. She says the vehicle, which looks similar to a bobsled, can be pretty scary to drive.

"As a driver, you're lying down on your back completely," she said. "You have very little visibility and ... you don't really have suspension. Of course, you're not going as fast, but it's scary for a different reason, because you have a little less control."

Tap on the player to hear the entire conversation with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.

Peregoudov said the vehicle goes about 40 km/h and hopes to achieve fuel efficiency this year as high as 1000 miles per gallon — about 0.235 l/100 km.

Each member of the team has spent least 100 hours on the project, and is working through the March break, she said.

The vehicle will be shipped to California from Sarnia on April 5. The Shell Eco-marathon Americas takes place April 19-22.


Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email