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A member of the team from Universidad de Corilha stands with their car. (Photograph by Andrew Lipscomb)

At Shell Eco-marathon, many things go into the inspiration behind the design of the cars. One of the most popular things that influence car designers is the culture from their country. I was able to speak with members of the Ubicar 13 crew from Portugal’s Universidad de Corilha and talk about the pieces that made up their very unique car.

The car was pieced together with cork (a native Portuguese product), surrounded by coconut, and layered with coconut threads. The makeup of the car is very symbolic of their country, and according to them, very efficient also. They believed that the coconut threads create a dimple effect similar to that of a golf ball, which gives them good aerodynamics at lower speeds.

They also choose to make the entire car with flat pieces of cork, as opposed to rounded pieces like other cars use. This is also an aerodynamic trick that they hope to use to gain an edge on the competition. With over 200 countries represented this year, the Portuguese may not have had a bad idea to use a domestic approach for a better advantage.