Solar sports car nears road-readiness
A team of Australian students claim they are less than three months away from completing the Southern Hemisphere's first road-legal solar-powered car.
In 2014, the Sunswift team of undergraduates from the University of New South Wales broke the world record with their eVe car for the fastest electric vehicle over a distance of 500 kilometres on a single battery charge.
And now the team is redesigning and rebuilding almost every aspect of their car to make it street-legal.
"We started this project trying to win a race, and now we want to take on the world and become the first road legal solar car in the southern hemisphere," said the Sunswift team in a video.
"This is our greatest engineering challenge yet. We're rebuilding the car from inside out, to reach commercial status for reliability and safety. 21st century driver controls, high safety and high-speed charging are just some of the changes to our plan."
However these luxuries will also add weight to the car, necessitating upgrades to the energy system and the power train.
"To make the vehicle a commercially viable product and not just a science experiment, we need to offer the luxuries found in a petrol powered car," said the team's business manager Rob Ireland in an interview with news.com.au.
In the UK, the drive for a commercially-available solar car is being led by a partnership between Aston Martin and solar giant Hanergy.
The two companies also started with motor racing, having affixed thin-film solar panels affixed to an Aston Martin GTE racing-car roof.
The concept of using racing cars as a test-bed for new technologies was one of the founding principles of the Formula E race series, while the idea of purely solar-powered vehicles is creeping into the public consciousness all the time, as the Solar Impulse plane continues its epic round-the-world journey.
Video: Australia's first road legal solar car