In 1998, the Fachhochschule Offenburg participates for the first time in the Shell Eco-marathon in Circuit Paul Armagnac in France. As the first German team under project creator and team leader Raphael Fischer, they start with the Schluckspecht I of the “Prototype” class. This is where the name “Schluckspecht” was born, because the first model with its gasoline engine consumed so much fuel that the tank was not enough for one run.
For the second participation in the Shell Eco-marathon the experiences of the previous year were used to revise the Schluckspecht I. The Specht drove even more efficient and economically,.
At the turn of the millennium, the Specht was taken on new paths. Instead of the previous gasoline engine, a diesel engine was used. It was built in the new model – the Schluckspecht II. With the new model, the team reached for the first time over 700km with a liter of diesel and came among the 50 best teams of the competition.
The increase in efficiency from previous years was continued and the Schluckspecht II reached 958 km/l over 250km more than in 2000.
In 2002, finally, the 1000km mark was cracked. With 1029 km per one liter of diesel, the team Schluckspecht moved into ninth place in the Top Ten of the Shell Eco-marathon.
The Schluckspecht II had its day and a new model was needed. The new Schluckspecht III captivated not only by its modern design, but also with Aerodynmaik and an ultra-light construction. The effort was worthwhile and the new Specht reached the first place for safety and the second place for conception.
With almost 1300km per one liter of diesel, the team Schluckspecht narrowly missed the winner’s podium in the diesel category. But fourth place showed that the team with its know-how was on the right path.
After seven years of project, the team Schluckspecht earned the first place in the podium at the Shell Eco-marathon. With a range of 1807 km l, the Schluckspecht III was able to outpace all competitors in the diesel category.
In 2006, the team decided to try out new drive concepts. For this purpose, the diesel engine was replaced by a low-emission hydrogen fuel cell. This was in the specially developed wheel hub motor in the rear wheel. For this innovative concept, the team won directly the 1st place of the Bosch Innovation Award as well as the 3rd place in the fuel cell category.
The further development of the hydrogen fuel cell was rewarded this year with 2716 km / l and the 2nd place in the fuel cell category. For this success and the innovativeness of the project, the team was additionally rewarded by the Baden-Württemberg State Secretary for Science Dietrich Birk with a check for € 10,000.
At the third start with the new drive it was done. Schluckspecht III managed an unbelievable 3198 km l and reached the 1st place of the fuel cell category. In addition, Team Schluckspecht became the first team ever to introduce a self-developed direct ethanol fuel cell, which Shell honored with a special prize.
The Schluckspecht III stayed at home this year and made room for a new member of the vehicle family – the Schluckspecht City. The new model, also powered by hydrogen, entered the vehicle category “Urban Concept”. In contrast to the protoype, the Urban Concept must be similar in its specification to roadworthy vehicles. Mandatory are for example: 4 wheels, lights and flashing system, an upright sitting position of the driver and a trunk.
In the new decade, both models were again in use at the Shell Eco-marathon. The competition was held for the second time at the Euro Speedway in Lausitz and the Schluckspecht III reached the 2nd place of the fuel cell category. The Schluckspecht City was unfortunately due to a technical defect and could not participate in the rating. But he entered in the fall with a battery operation at the “South African Solar Challenge” and set there with 626km a new record.
In 2011, the Shell Eco-marathon was back in business again. The Schluckspecht City was now called Schluckspecht E2LIGHT and was equipped with a new chassis that reduced the weight of the car by a new system for load distribution of 159kg to 111kg. Shell honored this with the Innovation Award in the category “Urban Concept”. In August, the team then managed to set a world record with the new model on a test track in Boxberg (Main-Tauber-Kreis). With 1631km per battery charge, the Specht drove over 600km more than the previous world record holders from Japan.
The Shell Eco-marathon took place for the first time in Rotterdam. Due to a motor failure, the Schluckspecht III managed only to finish 5th in the fuel category. The Schluckpspecht City use this year a new drive – the Sterling engine and drove thus out of competition. This engine uses heat for power generation instead of conventional fuel. For the first time the work of the team was also honored by the Federal Republic of Germany. As one of 365 projects, the team Schluckspecht was awarded the “365 Orte im Land der Ideen” trophy.
Under the new team leader Professor Claus Fleig, the team used for the first time a diesel engine to move the Schluckspecht 4 (City) and drove directly with 309 km / l on position 1 of the winners podium category diesel engines. Unfortunately, Schluckspecht III was less fortunate and could not compete in Rotterdam after an engine failure.
With their Schluckspecht 4, the team Schluckspecht 2014 set a new world record. The diesel-powered Specht managed arithmetically 389 km per liter of diesel and left all teams from Europe, America and Asia far behind. The team Schluckspecht was also successful next to the race track. The “Shell Helix Tribology Award” also went to the students from Offenburg. With this award, the work to optimize the friction of the diesel engine by calculations and simulations were appreciated.
’15 came the 5th. The latest model of the Schluckspecht family, the Schluckspecht V, is, like its predecessor, an urban concept. Like all Spechts, its ergonomic body made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and its modern cockpit were developed and manufactured almost exclusively by students at the university of applied science. The lightest and most stable Sled Woodpecker of all time brought the cup of the diesel category to Offenburg for the third time.
Although the Schluckspecht V did not top its record in the previous year at 249 km/l, it still secured its first place in the diesel category on the new track in London. The battery-powered Prototype Schluckspecht III just missed the podium with 4th and 620 km/kWh. In December, however, he was able to prove his skills in Maranello Italy at the headquarters of the sports car brand Ferrari. 328km/kwH earned Schluckspecht III the title of “most fuel-efficient vehicle” in Shell’s “Most Efficient Lap of Fiorano Circuit” competition, which was also held for the best teams in the Shell Eco-marathon.
In 2017, both cars entered the “Drivers World Championship” for the first time. In this sub-competition of the Shell Eco-marathon efficiency is combined with speed. The track was heavily used. The Schluckspecht V achieved the 4th place with 321 km/l and the Schluckspecht III the 8th place with 443 km/kWh.