Alex Conway from University of Birmingham’s UBRacing team joined students across England, Scotland and Wales to compete in the Formula Student Diesel Eco Driving Challenge powered by Bosch on 18th–21st June.

Alex, an undergraduate student in the School of Mechanical Engineering and member of the University’s Formula student team UBRacing, represented his team in a non-stop driving challenge across the length and breadth of Britain in a bid to be crowned one of the nation’s most economical drivers.

The inaugural three-day competition travelled via 43 universities and was jointly run by Formula Student and Bosch. Teams drove around the clock to reach the finish line in Scotland, with each University responsible for a different leg of the journey. Each team drove a section of the 1,701 mile route while having their eco-driving ability measured by on-board computers before passing the vehicle on to the next university.

Participating students taking part were all involved with Formula Student 2013 which took place at Silverstone from 4th–7th July. The event challenges universities from across the world to design, build and race a single seat racing car from scratch in one year before putting it to the test at one of the world’s greatest racetracks.

Patrick Kniveton, President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers which runs Formula Student, flagged off the event at the Institution’s Westminster headquarters at 11am on 18th June. From Westminster the car travelled to the first stop, Queen Mary University of London in Mile End, before travelling south along the coast and then west towards Swansea. It zigzagged across England the country towards the final destination of Aberdeen University on 21st June.

Teams drove a Ford Fiesta powered by a 1.5-litre TDCi diesel engine which used Bosch common rail diesel injectors and a high-pressure Bosch fuel pump. Monitoring equipment analysed the efficiency of each team’s driving, with three awards up for grabs, covering city, rural and highway driving.

Distances between universities ranged from three miles to over 100 miles, with each team being monitored equally. During the Challenge, drivers used the Bosch Car Multimedia division’s satellite navigation app, as well as a data logger from Bosch’s subsidiary ETAS. Shell generously supplied FuelSave diesel for this Challenge.

Peter Fouquet, President of Bosch UK, said: “With the help of Bosch technologies, the vehicle being used for the Formula Student Diesel Eco Driving Challenge achieves CO2 emissions of just 98g/km. In the near future, Bosch sees the potential across all vehicle segments for even greater CO2 emissions reductions of up to 20 percent in some cases.”

The University of Birmingham team set off from the Edgbaston campus at 10pm on Wednesday 19th June and took the car across the city to Aston University.

The winners were announced on Friday 5th July at Formula Student 2013. Simon Esselmont from the University of Aberdeen’s Formula Student Team won the overall FS Diesel Eco Challenge prize after averaging 85.66mpg during his drive. The City Driving category was won by Lewis Morgan from the University of Southampton who averaged 77.74mpg; Lawrence Allmark from Liverpool John Moores claimed the Rural trophy with a score of 81.07mpg; and Adam Stevens from Oxford Brookes University won the Highway prize with a score of 90.42mpg, although his average score was lower.

Colin Brown, Director of Engineering at the Institution, said: “It was a brilliant event. The students who took part approached the competition with a genuine excitement and enthusiasm. Engine efficiency is such an important issue in our fuel hungry world and this has been such a great way to get the message across.

David Fulker, Head of Marketing for Bosch Automotive UK, said: “The Formula Student Diesel Eco Challenge perfectly showcased the clean, economical and powerful features of diesel technology”. Mr. Fulker added that the inaugural event had “fully leveraged” the Bosch Gold Sponsorship of Formula Student, and said the competition would return bigger and better next year.

While the University of Birmingham team didn’t win, Alex Conway drove a valiant effort. He said: "The challenge was a great opportunity to broaden awareness of Formula Student within the engineering community while highlighting one of the current aims of the automotive industry; an increase in fuel economy and reduction of emissions. It was an interesting challenge to be involved in a driving event where fuel economy is the greatest factor."