Six student teams represent Singapore at the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia

The six teams representing Singapore at the annual Shell Eco-Marathon Asia showcased their projects today, ahead of next month's competition in Kuala Lumpur.

The event challenges youths around the world to design, build and test ultra energy-efficient vehicles. Teams can compete in two categories: the 'UrbanConcept' class which focuses on making roadworthy, day-to-day fuel-efficient cars; and the 'Prototype' class which emphasises design elements like drag reduction to maximise mileage.

There are 133 teams from 16 Asian countries taking part this year. Of the six Singapore teams, there are two each from the Institute of Technical Education College West, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Nanyang Technological University.

Entries are not based on speed, but rather on fuel-efficiency. They are judged on how far the vehicle can travel on a litre of fuel, with a minimum speed of 25-30kmh.

This year's competition also sees the introduction of a new component to the competition: the 'Student Energy Challenge', which requires teams to produce an infographic based on questions about the future of energy.

"We wanted to get them to understand the larger issues behind the competition...the full context of the energy challenge the world is facing," said Ms Mavis Kuek, general manager of communications and general relations at Shell. "If not, the competition is just a mechanical or engineering project."

The event, sponsored by energy firm Shell, began in 1939 as a friendly competition in the United States between research scientists to see who could drive their car the furthest on a single gallon of petrol.

It has since expanded worldwide with annual contests in America, Europe and Asia. The Asia edition has been ongoing since 2010.