The Perodua Eco-Challenge (PEC) is one of the more interesting CSR programmes around. Now in its third year, PEC challenges universities and polytechnics to produce the most fuel efficient “concept car”. The main objective is to challenge the engineering capabilities of undergraduates and to breed innovation and creativity among them. And as we’ve seen from last year’s event, the results can be very impressive.

Perodua Eco-Challenge 2011 will happen on June 25 at the Melaka International Motorsports Circuit. The venue of the finals may be the same, but this year’s PEC is a much tougher challenge for the students. The main change is that teams are now only given an engine (660 cc three-cylinder) and a gearbox (five-speed manual), as opposed to a full car last year.

This means that teams will have to construct a chassis and shell for the car, instead of just stripping and modifying Vivas. Because of this extra work, the seed money given to each team by Perodua has increased from last year’s RM10,000 to RM17,500.

Because of this new ruling, the machines we will see at MIMC next month will come in various shapes, sizes and configurations – UKM is working on a mid engined, rear driven car, for instance. They will also be given less fuel. Last year, teams extracted the most out of a litre of petrol; this year, they will do so with half the amount (0.5-litre) of Petronas Primax 95 Xtra.

The entry list this year has grown to 14 teams, including a Perodua in-house R&D team that won’t be eligible for prizes. Speaking of prizes, the longest distance winning team will take home RM20,000, first runner up RM10,000 and third place RM5,000. The “Engineering” category has a RM30k pot to be won, while the “Design/Participation” category offers RM9,000 up for grabs.

At a progress update event this afternoon, the selected reps of the participating universities didn’t reveal too much of their “trade secrets”, but the Perodua team (which has nothing to lose, or rather nothing to win) shared their project targets as well as the shape of their car, which you can see from the image above. Can any student team beat this 70 km/l benchmark? We’ll have to wait. At present, many of the teams are in the phase of manufacturing the components and testing the car.

The entry list consists of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Spanish Institute, Politeknik Sultan Azlan Shah (based in Tg Malim, so they will be testing in Proton’s facilities!), Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Universiti Sains Malaysia (2010 A/T winners), Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (2010 M/T winners), Universiti Industri Selangor, Politeknik Ungku Omar, Politeknik Port Dickson, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka.

All the best to the participating teams – see you in Melaka!