The World Solar Challenge is a bi-annual race where solar cars zip (or coast) across 3,000 kilometers (1864 miles) of the Australia Outback to claim prizes in the Challenger Class, Cruiser Class, and Adventure Class… or not.
The 2013 World Solar Challenge is to take place October 6 through 13. As we get closer to the race, teams are beginning to unveil their solar cars. In a word, these cars are awesome! Here are some pics and short videos of two of these initial challengers:
Two Awesome Solar Cars
Stanford’s Solar Car — Luminos
Read more about Luminos on the Stanford Solar Car Project blog.
Solar Family Car That Seats 4 – TU/e’s Stella
Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands is going the family car route (it’s in the Cruiser Class, where practicality is rewarded. In this category, the solar cars must have 4 wheels. But Stella goes a step further — it can seat 4 people! Here’s a bit more info on the Cruiser Class from the World Solar Challenge webpage linked above:
Unique in a competition, the World Solar Challenge has started to see some teams work within the regulations to build a car which would not win any award based on time. The Michelin Cruiser Class is inspired by the 2009 German entry Bo-Cruiser, the successor of which completed the 2011 World Solar Challenge and went on to the ultimate lap of honour by circumnavigating the globe!
This goal of the Michelin Cruiser Class is not speed but practicality, with the ultimate goal of an entrant being able to meet the requirements for road registration in the country of origin.
Electric Cars + Solar Power for the Rest of Us
Cool stuff. And the takeaway point is really that solar power has come a looooong way. It can be used in many ways these days due to the high efficiency of solar panels and their increasingly low cost. But rather than using solar panels on a car, it’s actually much more practical to put solar panels on your roof and buy a mass-market electric car like the Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, Chevy Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric, or Tesla Model S (those and a lot of other electric cars are already on the market). Then you can save boatloads of money on both electricity and gas… while powering your car with electrons from the sun.
Actually, this solar–electric car combo is quite common. A California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) study published in 2012 found that 39% of plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) owners in California also had solar panels on their roofs, while another 17% were planning to install solar panels on their roofs. Here’s a pie chart displaying the split:
What’s wrong with that other 44%? Well, there may not be anything wrong with them at all. Perhaps they just live in an apartment building (where they can’t go solar), perhaps they rent, or perhaps they have some sort of problem with their roof. Or perhaps they really are insane….
The point is clear, though: solar power saves many homeowners a ton of money, and it’s even more useful for those with electric cars. (Free fuel!) Join the club — get a solar quote (or get another one if you haven’t gotten one in a few months) and look into buying an electric car.
Don’t be insane.