2019 World Solar Challenge quick update

A busy few days in the world of solar car racing! Michigan has announced that their new car will be called Electrum. Top Dutch revealed their car (see above and this video). Wisely, they choose a design different from the other Dutch teams. It looks so good that at this stage I’m calling them “best new team.” Is it good enough to have an all-Dutch podium, though?

The other big reveal was Twente, the first top-five team to reveal their car (see below, this press release, and this video). It’s a fantastic-looking vehicle, and if it’s as fast as it looks, Twente should do well. For more details on BWSC teams, see my recently updated teams list #6.

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Calendar for July

The next calendar (click for hi-res image). Fifty years since the first moon landing, a solar eclipse, and the Formula Sun Grand Prix in the US.

See more calendars here.


2019 World Solar Challenge: the route

Following on from my route map above for the World Solar Challenge (click to zoom), here are some personal route notes (revised from 2015 and 2017). The WSC has confirmed that the control stops are as indicated.

The graph below (click to zoom) shows approximate altitudes (taken from the Stanford 2013 elevation profile for this version of the graph). The highest point on the route (about 730 m) is 20 km north of Alice Springs, although the steepest hill (Hayes Creek Hill, summit 203 m) is about 170 km from Darwin.

Darwin – Start


Solar Team Eindhoven’s Stella starts the race in 2013 (photo: WSC)

The city of Darwin marks the start of the race.

Katherine – 322 km – Control Stop 1


En route to Katherine in 2011 (photo: UC Berkeley Solar Vehicle Team)

The town of Katherine (on the Katherine River) is a gateway to Nitmiluk National Park. It also serves the nearby Royal Australian Air Force base. The average maximum October temperature is 37.7°C.

Daly Waters – 588 km – Control Stop 2


The famous Daly Waters pub (photo: Lakeyboy)

Daly Waters is a small town with a famous pub. The Eindhoven team left a shirt there in 2015.

Dunmarra – 633 km


University of Toronto’s Blue Sky Solar team leaves the Dunmarra control stop in 2013 (photo: Blue Sky Solar)

Dunmarra once served the Overland Telegraph Line. Today it is little more than a roadhouse, motel, and caravan park. In previous races, this was a control stop.

Tennant Creek – 987 km – Control Stop 3 / End of Cruiser Stage 1


Tennant Creek (photo: Tourism NT)

Tennant Creek (population about 3,500) is a small town serving nearby mines, cattle stations, and tourist attractions. Shopping can be done at Tennant Creek IGA.

For 2019, Tennant Creek marks the end of Cruiser Stage 1. Cruisers must arrive between 14:00 and 17:00 on Monday (with penalties for arriving after 14:00). Cruiser teams will spend the night, and have the option of metered recharging between sunset and 23:00.

Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve


Nuon Solar Team’s Nuna7 drives by the Devils Marbles in 2013 (photo: Jorrit Lousberg)

The 1,802 hectare Karlu Karlu / Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve lies along both sides of the Stuart Highway about 100 km south of Tennant Creek. It is home to a variety of reptiles and birds, including the fairy martin (Petrochelidon ariel) and the sand goanna (Varanus gouldii). Race participants, of course, don’t have time to look (unless, by chance, this is where they stop for the night).

Barrow Creek – 1,210 km – Control Stop 4


Barrow Creek Roadhouse and surrounds (photo: Adrian Kitchingman)

Barrow Creek once served the Overland Telegraph Line and nearby graziers, but is now nothing but a roadhouse. The Telegraph Station is preserved as a historical site.

Ti Tree – 1,300 km


Nuon Solar Team’s Nuna6 drives by a fire between Tennant Creek and Alice Springs in 2011 (photo: Hans Peter van Velthoven)

Ti Tree is a small settlement north of Alice Springs. Much of the local area is owned by the Anmatyerre people. In previous races, this was a control stop.

Alice Springs – 1,493 km – Control Stop 5


Alice Springs (photo: Ben Tillman)

Alice Springs is roughly the half-way point of the race.

Kulgera – 1,766 km – Control Stop 6


Sunset near Kulgera (photo: “dannebrog”)

Kulgera is a tiny settlement 20 km from the NT / SA Border. The “pub” is Kulgera’s main feature.

NT / SA Border – 1,786 km


Entering South Australia (photo: Phil Whitehouse)

The sign at the Northern Territory / South Australia border shows Sturt’s Desert Pea (Swainsona formosa), the floral emblem of the state of South Australia.

Marla – 1,945 km


Road train at Marla (photo: Ed Dunens)

Marla (population 100) has a health centre, a roadhouse/motel/supermarket complex, a police station, and a small car repair workshop. The name of the town may be a reference to the mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus) or to an Aboriginal word for “kangaroo.”

Coober Pedy – 2,178 km – Control Stop 7 / End of Cruiser Stage 2


Coober Pedy (photo: “Lodo27”)

The town of Coober Pedy is a major centre for opal mining. Because of the intense desert heat, many residents live underground.

For 2019, Coober Pedy marks the end of Cruiser Stage 2. Cruisers must arrive between 16:30 and 17:00 on Wednesday (with penalties for arriving after 16:30). Cruiser teams will spend the night, and have the option of metered recharging between sunset and 23:00.

Glendambo – 2,432 km – Control Stop 8


The Belgian team’s Indupol One leaves Glendambo control stop in 2013 (photo: Punch Powertrain Solar Team / Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Glendambo is another small outback settlement.

Port Augusta – 2,720 km – Control Stop 9

At Port Augusta, the highway reaches the Spencer Gulf. From this point, traffic becomes much heavier, which makes life more difficult for the drivers in the race.

Adelaide – Finish


Adelaide makes quite a contrast to that lengthy stretch of desert (photo: “Orderinchaos”)

Adelaide, the “City of Churches,” is the end of the race. The official finish line marks 3,022 km from Darwin.

Cruisers must arrive between 11:30 and 14:00 on Friday (with penalties for arriving after 11:30).


2019 World Solar Challenge teams list


Nine fantastic WSC cars from Delft: 2001–2017 (photos: Vattenfall Solar Team)

Here is a further update on the 48 teams (29 Challengers, 19 Cruisers, and no Adventure cars) from 23 countries aiming for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this coming October. Below is my best understanding of the current team status, updated to match the official list of teams. Sadly, Appalachian State University have dropped out. Teams are sorted in team number order (which has changed!).

Recent BWSC news is that Bochum and Minnesota will be racing existing cars (thyssenkrupp SunRiser and Eos II), and that three Dutch teams are jointly sea-freighting their batteries. There is also an ASC-style documentation progress chart this year (with orange meaning “being processed”). We have seen car reveals from Chalmers, Eclipse (pic), HUST (pic), Top Dutch (video), Twente (video), Blue Sky (video), the commercial solar car Lightyear One (video), Kogakuin (video), MDH (pic), CalSol, Agoria (video), Eindhoven (video), HK IVE (pic), NIT (pic), SER (pic), Vattenfall (video), Michigan (video), Minnesota (video), Solaris (pic), and Aachen.

Promised new car reveals include Onda31 July, WSU7 August, Durham12 August, Cambridge15 August, EcoPhoton: some time in August, and JU30 August. There has been no word on a reveal from Antakari, Tokai, Stanford, ANU, STC, Mines Rabat, Alfaisal, Golden State, Beijing, KUST, Dyuti, Estidamah, or ATN.

US  Looks on track  University of Michigan 

Challenger (new car: Electrum) – their car name is the name of a gold/silver alloy famous in antiquity. Their team number (2) is a long-standing tradition. They revealed their car on 19 July (video).

NL    Vattenfall Solar Team (Delft) 

Asymmetric GaAs challenger (new car: Nuna X) – these are the champions formerly known as Nuon. See their 2017 aftermovie. The new car weighs just 135 kg (298 lbs) and has a unique asymmetrical rear (designed to take advantage of October winds coming primarily from the east). Their team number (3) is a long-standing tradition. They revealed their car on 16 July (video).

CL  Hmmm  Antakari Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Intikallpa V) – no news on the new design as yet. There has been no word on a car reveal.

Antakari BWSC 2013 aftermovie (they participated in the Adventure class)

SG  Looks on track  Singapore Polytechnic 

Two-seat cruiser (SunSPEC 6) – photographs suggest that their 2019 car is a modified version of their 2017 car SunSPEC 5. They have new motors and new doors.

NL  Looks on track  Top Dutch Solar Racing 

Monohull GaAs challenger (new team) – their car is a GaAs bullet car resembling Michigan’s 2017 Novum. It looks so good that at this stage I’m calling them “best new team.” Their car has four-wheel steering at low speed and two-wheel steering at high speed. There are Dutch media reports about their plans, and they are vlogging weekly (in Dutch). They revealed their car on 12 June (video).

AU    Adelaide University 

Asymmetric challenger (Lumen II Mk II) – they have been doing a lot of testing.

BE    Agoria Solar Team (KU Leuven) 

Asymmetric GaAs challenger (new car: BluePoint) – they are now sponsored by Agoria. They held a mock race with the old car. Their new car looks very similar. Their team number (8) is a long-standing tradition. They revealed their car on 3 July (video).

IT  Looks on track  Onda Solare 

Four-seat cruiser (Emilia 4) – they won the American Solar Challenge (Cruiser class) last year, and they have written up their design process here, but they have since made substantial improvements to the vehicle, including to the aerodynamics, suspension, battery, and solar panels. Their team number (9) is taken from the SS 9, the highway through Bologna, which was once the Roman Via Aemilia (hence also the name of their vehicle). They will reveal their car on 31 July.

10  JP  Looks on track  Tokai University 

Challenger (new car: Tokai Challenger) – in January they hosted some visitors from Lodz. There has been no word on a car reveal.

11  DE    Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

Two-seat cruiser (thyssenkrupp SunRiser) – Bochum is not building a new WSC car, but are improving their sexy 2-seater SunRiser, which came 3rd in 2015. They also have a solar buggy team. As in previous years, they participated in the Albi Eco Race.


photo: Anthony Dekker

12  GB  Hmmm  Cambridge University 

Four-seat cruiser (new car: Helia) – they are busy with fabrication. They will reveal their car on 15 August.

14  AU    Flinders University 

Three-seat cruiser (Investigator Mk 3) – they are planning to improve aerodynamics, reduce weight, and make some other changes.

15  AU    Western Sydney Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Unlimited 3.0) – they won the American Solar Challenge last year (with their Challenger car Unlimited 2.0). They will reveal their car on 7 August.

16  US  Looks on track  Stanford Solar Car Project 

Challenger (new car) – they have shown us their shell, which is a unique asymmetric bullet car. They held a private car reveal event.

18  MY  Looks on track  EcoPhoton / UiTM 

Challenger (new car: Tigris) – see their first and second vlogs (in Bahasa Malaysia). They will reveal their car some time in August.

20  GB  Hmmm  Durham University 

Challenger (new car: Ortus) – they had hoped to finish the car by June. They will reveal their car on 12 August.

Announcement of the start of construction

21  NL    Solar Team Twente 

Asymmetric GaAs challenger (new car: RED E) – they are already producing regular vlogs (in Dutch), and have also produced an (English) day-in-the-life blog post. Their design is a GaAs catamaran with shingled solar cells. They developed a MOOC explaining the design of their 2015 car. Their team number (21) is a pun and a wish for success in the race (“Twente-One”). They revealed their car on 21 June (video).

22  SE    MDH Solar Team 

Classic symmetric challenger (Viking) – this year’s car is an improved version of their 2017 car, with better aerodynamics and electronics. In particular, the two “bites” on the side have been filled in. They revealed their car on 29 June (pic).

23  SE  Hmmm  Halmstad University Solar Team 

Outrigger challenger (new team with car: Heart Three) – their render showed a bullet car, much like Michigan’s 2017 entry, although the chassis suggests outriggers of some kind (with the associated drag issues). They revealed their car on 11 June (pic), but without any really good pictures of the completed vehicle.

25  HK  Looks on track  Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education 

Two-seat cruiser (Sophie 6s) – their car is a modification of Sophie 6 from 2017. They revealed their car on 6 July (pic).

Hong Kong IVE BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they raced in the Cruiser class)

30  AU    Team Arrow 

Two-seat cruiser (ArrowSTF) – they have done a six-month-out update video. Their team number (30) is the average age of people on the original team.

Team Arrow 6 Months to #BWSC19 Update

31  CH    Solar Energy Racers 

Asymmetric challenger (SER-3) – they raced this car in South Africa, but have made some improvements. They revealed the car on 10 July, prior to sending it to Australia by sea.

35  US  Looks on track  University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project 

Two-seat cruiser (Eos II) – they are building a new car, but will race an upgraded version of their existing one for BWSC 19 (revealing it on 19 July). Their team number (35) is derived from the Interstate 35 highway.

37  JP  Hmmm  Goko High School

Challenger (Musoushin) – this high-school team always does very well.

40  NL    Solar Team Eindhoven 

Four-seat cruiser (new car: Stella Era) – their new car has many cool features and a range of 1200 km. Their team number (40) is the Eindhoven telephone area code. They revealed their car on 4 July (video).

41  AU    Australian National University 

Asymmetric challenger (new car: MTAA Super Charge 2.0) – they have a shell, produced by Sydney Composites. There has been no word on a car reveal.

42  AU    TAFE SA 

Two-seat cruiser (SAV) – this time they will tow the trailer that belongs with the car.

43  GB    Ardingly College 

Two-seat cruiser (Ardingly Solar Car) – this high-school team came 6th in the iESC Cruiser class, but have upgraded the car since then. They participated in the Albi Eco Race.

45  PL  Looks on track  Lodz Solar Team 

Four-seat 60-kWh cruiser (Eagle Two) – they have upgraded and repainted their car, and improved the interior. Their team number (45) is a tradition since 2015.

46  SE  Hmmm  JU Solar Team 

Asymmetric challenger (new car: Axelent) – they have a rolling test chassis, a body, and a battery. The body design seems long and thin. Their team number (46) is the Swedish national telephone prefix. They will reveal their car on 30 August.

47  JP  Looks on track  Nagoya Institute of Technology 

Monohull challenger (new car: Horizon Ace) – their car resembles Tokyo’s 2017 vehicle. They revealed their car on 6 July (pic).

49  TH  Hmmm  Siam Technical College 

Cruiser (new car: STC-3) – they appear to be busy with construction. There has been no word on a car reveal.

Siam Technical College BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they raced in the Cruiser class)

51  SE    Chalmers Solar Team 

Outrigger challenger (new team with car: Alfrödull) – their final render resembles the car of the South African NWU team. They have a rolling chassis, which they revealed in May. Their shipping date was in July. See their promo video here.

55  MA  Looks like they might not make WSC  Mines Rabat Solar Team 

Asymmetric challenger (new car: Eleadora 2) – they have a bottom shell, but the shipping date must be approaching fast.

63  SA  Hmmm  Alfaisal Solar Car Team 

Classic symmetric challenger (new car: Areej 1) – they had hoped to race at ASC 2018, but did not make it. There has been no word on a car reveal, but progress seems good, and they have both a rolling chassis and a bottom shell. The car name is a pun: AREG/Areej is an acronym for Alfaisal Renewable Energy Group but also means “the scent of a flowery garden” in Arabic. Amjad Alamri appears to be one of the drivers.

66  US  Looks on track  Berkeley (CalSol) 

Four-seat 16-kWh cruiser (new car: Tachyon) – they revealed their new car at FSGP. Their average speed at FSGP was 46.3 km/h, compared to 52.8 km/h for Esteban (the leading single-occupant vehicle). This raises some doubts as to whether they can make the WSC on-road target speed of around 75 km/h.

67  US  Looks like they might not make WSC  Golden State (UCLA / SMC) 

Cruiser (new team with car: The Golden Bear) – they have removed references to attending the WSC from their website. There has been no word on a car reveal.

70  DE    Sonnenwagen Aachen 

Challenger (new car: Covestro Sonnenwagen) – they have a car-racing game app starring their car. Their team number (70) is the number they raced with in 2017. They revealed their car on 22 July.

75  AU    University of New South Wales / Sunswift 

Four-seat 20-kWh cruiser (Violet) – they have been testing their car on the track.

77  CA  Looks on track  University of Toronto (Blue Sky) 

Monohull challenger (new car: Viridian) – they have a great-looking bullet car this year. They revealed their car on 24 June (video).

80  CN  Hmmm  Beijing Institute of Technology

Cruiser (new car: Sun Shuttle III). There has been no word on a car reveal.


public domain photo

82  KR  Looks on track  Kookmin University Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Man-Se) – they have shown us only a silhouette. Their team number (82) is the Korean national telephone prefix. There has been no word on a car reveal.

KUST BWSC 2017 aftermovie (they raced in the Challenger class)

84  TR  Looks on track  Dokuz Eylül University (Solaris) 

Asymmetric challenger (new car: S10) – they expect the new car to be 44% more efficient than the 2015 model. They revealed their car on 19 July (pic).

86  IN  Hmmm  Dyuti

Cruiser (new team with car: WattSun). There has been no word on a car reveal.


public domain photo

88  JP  Looks on track  Kogakuin University 

Monohull GaAs challenger (new car: Eagle) – once again they have a sleek and elegantly unique design. There is a good discussion with interior pics here. Their team number (88) is multi-faceted (88 is a lucky number in Japanese kanji; 4 wheels looks like 88; and the team garage is in Hachioji city, with ‘hachi’ meaning ‘eight’). They revealed their car on 27 June (video).

89  SA  Hmmm  Estidamah 

Asymmetric challenger (new car: Sana) – this was formerly the Seraaj team. There has been no word on a car reveal.

92  CA    ETS Quebec (Eclipse) 

Asymmetric challenger (Éclipse X.I) – they came an excellent 3rd in the ASC, 102 minutes behind Western Sydney, and hope to go even faster with the new battery pack in their modified car. Their improvements are summarised in their winter newsletter. They revealed their car on 10 June (pic).

98  AU    ATN Solar Car Team 

Two-seat cruiser (new team) – their team is a mixture of lecturers and students from five universities across Australia. They have tested a model in a wind tunnel. There has been no word on a car reveal.

This page last updated 13:37 on 22 July 2019 AEST. Thanks to Nigel for several news items.