There’s not a lot of trunk space, but it could get you to Vancouver on $11 in gas.

A team of six mechanical engineering students from Dalhousie University is competing to build the world’s most fuel-efficient car.

The competition, sponsored by Shell, takes place on a racetrack in Fontana, Calif., in April. At the helm of Nova Scotia’s Maritime Mileage Machine will be five-foot-four Carmen McKnight.


“I haven’t done this kind of thing before,” said McKnight, who sat in the vehicle for the first time yesterday. “I am a little nervous because I don’t want to screw it up for them. I feel there’s a lot riding on me.”

She’ll drive the prototype like she’s on a luge —lying down on her back with her head propped up.

“It’s designed for optimal aerodynamics, so there’s very little drag on the car,” teammate Matthew Harding said.

The current record in the U.S. is 1,445 kilometres per litre, which is not bad considering the average vehicle gets about 13 kilometres per litre.

Dalhousie’s current record is 420 kilometres per litre, but Harding said they’re trying to beat that score.

“The main thing is to show people that with existing technology you can get optimum fuel mileage,” he said.

“Our vehicle isn’t practical — you wouldn’t hop in this and drive to work — but it’s more to show this is a possibility.”

The body is sleek and light (made from Kevlar) and under the hood is a 35-cc engine from a lawn trimmer.

“It’s not the power that a car has, but we are propelling an occupant through a course,” Harding said. “It’s using only the power it needs. Cars right now produce way more power than what’s required to propel the vehicle.”

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