A team of Northern Illinois University engineering students have designed a car that could travel from Chicago to Las Vegas on just one gallon of gas.

The NIU Supermileage team, a group of engineering students working to build an ultra fuel-efficient car, participated in the SAE Supermileage competition in Marshall, MI earlier this month and saw their vehicle record 1,741 miles per gallon–good for third in the competition. That mark was more than 600 MPG better than when it placed sixth in the Shell Eco-Marathon in April, according to the university.

NIU has competed in the competition for the last eight years and finished in the top 3 six times.

“At Shell, we had some issues with rolling resistance, so we focused heavily on fixing that and on just getting outside and running the car,” team president Josh Helsper said in a statement. “We focused on working out any kinks we might have before we got to competition.”

Along with competing for best fuel efficiency, teams are also measured on vehicle endurance and design. NIU placed fourth in design but finished first in overall endurance. The team was able to go a total of 60 miles over six successful runs with no breakdowns, the university said.

“Even though our car had lower fuel economy than theirs, it was more reliable.” Helsper said.

In 2015 the NIU Supermileage team was featured in a Shell TV ad with Jay Leno, which shows the former Late Night host bragging about his car collection, admitting in the spot that one car does about 6 miles per gallon. Leno asks how far the supermileage team’s car goes, and one student responds “1,359.”

Image via NIU Supermileage Facebook 

Jim Dallke is the associate editor of Chicago Inno. As part of the team that launched Chicago Inno in 2014, Jim covers the ins and outs of Chicago's tech and innovation scene, and is always looking for scoops and story ideas. Get in touch: [email protected]