Is Detroit looking for interns?

A group of junior high school students from Missouri have built a car that gets 358 mpg.

Under the guidance of their industrial technology instructor, Marcus Reynolds, the seventh and eighth graders from Aurora Jr. High School used their creation to win the Missouri SuperMileage Challenge, competing against teams made up of older high school students.

The single-seat car weighs about 100 pounds and is powered by a 1.3 hp 35 cc Robin/Subaru motor that is typically used on motorized bicycles. A custom two-speed gearbox was built for the car and its streamlined corrugated plastic bodywork designed using scale models shaped in a small wind tunnel at the school.

At the event, the car was tested over 10 laps around a .48 mile-long highway patrol training track that incorporated several elevation changes and a 180 degree hairpin turn. The driver used the “pulse and glide” method for fuel efficient driving, which involves short bursts of acceleration followed by long periods of coasting off the power.

Next year Reynolds will be moving with several of his students to Aurora’s high school where he hopes to raise enough money to enter a car in prestigious Shell Eco Marathon against college teams from across the country. If they make it, the kids from Aurora will need to step up their game, the current world record for fuel economy is 15,212 mpg, set at an Eco Marathon event in France in 2005.

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