2019 World Solar Challenge update #2


Western Sydney University, after finishing WSC 2017 (picture credit)

Here is a new update on the 53 teams (27 Challengers, 25 Cruisers, and 1 Adventure car) aiming for the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia this coming October. Few teams have any significant news to report at this stage, so this is my best understanding of the current team status.

By special request, all links in this post now open in a new tab or page, depending on your browser (I would welcome feedback on whether this is an improvement):

AU  Adelaide University 

Challenger (Lumen II) – existing car.

AU  ATN Solar Car Team 

Cruiser (new team: see my team bio) – they have manufactured several parts of the car interior.

AU  Australian National University 

Challenger (new car: MTAA Gnowee) – no details as yet.

AU  Flinders University 

Cruiser (Investigator Mark III) – existing car.

AU  Swinburne Solar Team 

Cruiser (new team) – they appear to be building their first solar car.

AU  TAFE SA 

Cruiser (SAV) – existing car.

AU  Team Arrow 

Cruiser (ArrowSTF) – their commercial arm, Prohelion, is selling power packages.

AU  University of New South Wales / Sunswift 

Cruiser (Violet) – they set a record for lowest energy consumption driving trans-Australia (Perth to Sydney).

AU  Western Sydney Solar Team 

Challenger (Unlimited 2.0) – they won the American Solar Challenge with this car last year, and will be making further improvements.


photo: Anthony Dekker

BE  Punch Powertrain Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – they have some (top secret) production moulds.

CA  ETS Quebec (Eclipse) 

Challenger (Éclipse X) – they came an excellent 3rd in the ASC, 102 minutes behind Western Sydney.

CA  University of Toronto (Blue Sky) 

Challenger (new car: Viridian) – they plan to unveil the new car in July.

CL  Antakari Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Intikallpa V) – no news on the new design as yet.

CL  Eolian AutoSolar 

Cruiser (new car: Auriga ) – no news on the new design as yet.

DE  Bochum University of Applied Sciences 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

DE  Sonnenwagen Aachen 

Challenger (new car) – no details as yet.

HK  Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education 

Cruiser (Sophie VI) – existing car.

IN  R.V. College of Engineering 

Challenger (new car) – no details as yet.

IN  SolarMobil Manipal 

Cruiser (SM-S2) – existing car.

IT  Futuro Solare Onlus 

Cruiser (new car: Archimede 2.0) – they have an exciting design concept.

IT  Onda Solare 

Cruiser (Emilia 4) – they won the American Solar Challenge (Cruiser class) last year.

JP  Kogakuin University 

Challenger (new car) – they have officially announced their participation.

JP  Nagoya Institute of Technology 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

JP  Tokai University 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

KR  Kookmin University Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

MY  EcoPhoton / UiTM 

Challenger (new car: Tigris) – no news on the new design as yet, but Malaysia Boleh!

MA  Mines Rabat Solar Team 

Challenger (new car: Eleadora 2) – their new catamaran will look like this.

NL  Solar Team Eindhoven 

Cruiser (new car: Stella ?) – they have a good team working on the car.

NL  Solar Team Twente 

Challenger (new car) – they won the European Solar Challenge last year.

NL  Top Dutch Solar Racing 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – they have been prototyping in the snow.

NL  Vattenfall Solar Team (Delft) 

Challenger (new car: Nuna X) – these are the champions formerly known as Nuon. See their name change announcement video.

PL  Lodz Solar Team 

Cruiser (Eagle Two) – they have been visiting the USA for a conference.

PL  PUT Solar Dynamics 

Cruiser (new team) – they are based in the home town of the famous Australian explorer Paweł Strzelecki.

RU  Polytech Solar 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

SG  Singapore Polytechnic 

Cruiser (new car) – no details as yet.

SE  Chalmers Solar Team 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – their preliminary design resembles that of the South African NWU team.

SE  Halmstad University Solar Team 

Challenger (new team: see my team bio) – they are planning a bullet car, much like Michigan’s 2017 entry.

SE  JU Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

SE  MDH Solar Team 

Challenger (new car) – some degree of autonomous driving is planned.

CH  Solar Energy Racers 

Challenger (new car: SER-3) – their new car seems almost complete.

TW  Kaohsiung / Apollo 

Cruiser (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

TH  Siam Technical College 

Cruiser (new car: STC-3) – no news on the new design as yet.

TR  Dokuz Eylül University (Solaris) 

Challenger (plans uncertain) – no details as yet.

GB  Ardingly College 

Cruiser – this high-school team came 6th in the iESC Cruiser class.

GB  Cambridge University 

Cruiser (new car: Helia) – they are busy with fabrication.

GB  Durham University 

Challenger (new car: Ortus) – no news on the new design as yet.

US  Appalachian State University (Sunergy) 

Cruiser (new team: see my team bio) – they competed in the American Solar Challenge last year, with their car ROSE.

US  Berkeley (CalSol) 

Cruiser (new car: Tachyon) – they have a bottom shell and roll cage.

US  Houston School District 

Adventure (Sundancer) – this high school team is a regular competitor.

US  Iowa State University (PrISUm) 

Cruiser (new car: Eliana) – no news on the new design as yet.

US  Stanford Solar Car Project 

Challenger (new car) – no news on the new design as yet.

US  University of Michigan 

Challenger (new car) – they are asking for name suggestions for the new car.

US  University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project 

Cruiser (new car: Freya) – they are selling the trailer they have stored in Australia, as it is too small for their new car.

This page last updated 17:04 on 21 February 2019 AEDT


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2019 World Solar Challenge update


Nuon, now Vattenfall, at the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (photo: Anthony Dekker)

An update on the 53 teams (27 Challengers, 25 Cruisers, and 1 Adventure car) interested in the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge this October. The big news is that defending champions Nuon have changed their name to Vattenfall.

Warning: this list is obsolete. Please check more recent posts.

This page last updated 23:29 on 17 February 2019 AEDT


American Solar Challenge 2018: The run to Burns

I recently got my hands on the GPS tracker data for the American Solar Challenge last July. Above (for the 6 Challengers completing the stage) and below (for the Cruisers) are distance/speed charts for the run from Craters of the Moon to Burns, which seems the stage of the route with the best data (at this time of year I haven’t the time for a more detailed analysis). Click on the charts to zoom. Small coloured circles show end-of-day stops.

Stage times were 15:Western Sydney 8:05:16, 101:ETS Quebec 8:20:13, 2:Michigan 8:25:08, 55:Poly Montréal 8:42:52, 4:MIT 9:07:58, and 6:CalSol 9:30:12 for Challengers, and 828:App State 10:22:37, 559:Bologna 12:13:57, and 24:Waterloo 15:29:12 for Cruisers (note that Bologna was running fully loaded on solar power only, while the other Cruisers recharged from the grid).

The data has been processed by IOSiX. I’m not sure what that involved, but I’ve taken the data as gospel, eliminating any datapoints out of hours, off the route, or with PDOP more than 10. Notice that there are a few tracker “black spots,” and that trackers in some cars work better than in others. The small elevation charts are taken from the GPS tracker data, so they will not be reliable in the “black spots” (in particular, the big hill before Burns has been truncated – compare my timing chart).


American Solar Challenge 2018 Tracker Data

I just got my hands on the GPS tracker data for the American Solar Challenge last July. Out of the 13 cars from Michigan, MIT, CalSol, Western Syd, Illini, Waterloo, Minnesota, GA Tech, Poly Montreal, ETS Quebec, Bologna, W Mich, and App State, most were not being tracked during large stretches of the route (see the map above). That restricts what I can do with the data, but I will do something. Stay tuned.


A Belgian solar car climbs the mountains of Chile


Punch at CSA 2018 (picture credit)

Well, Punch Powertrain Solar Team, from Belgium (above) is currently racing against just one other Challenger car in the Carrera Solar Atacama in Chile (see: and the live tracker). I thought it would be interesting to compare Punch’s performance against that other mountain race, the 2018 American Solar Challenge, won by Western Sydney University.

The two races can’t be compared directly, however. The Carrera Solar Atacama has a greater elevation range (sea level to 3415 m, compared to 296 m to 2585 m for this year’s ASC). The CSA is south–north, rather than east–west, and takes place around 20° closer to the equator, on average. More dramatically, however, this year’s ASC allowed 2 m2 supplementary solar panels during static charging (see image below). This made the ASC a faster race.


WSU using supplementary solar panels at ASC 2018 (picture credit)

What I have done instead is compare the average speed for each segment against the approximate average climb rate, using the information provided in Punch’s wonderful infographics (see their social media: ). The corresponding datapoints for WSU were calculated in exactly the same way, and linear regression was applied for each team (see lines on the chart at the bottom of this post). The flatter line for Punch shows that they were less affected by the steep climbs. This is presumably due to their fancy new motor, which has a half-speed/double-torque mode. This Mitsuba motor was built by Nomura Co to Punch’s requirements.


Punch’s motor, built by Nomura Co (picture credit)

Update: the chart below has been updated with new data.


New solar car teams #5: Appalachian State

It’s a bit of a stretch calling Appalachian State University / Sunergy  (click: ) a new solar car team. Having rebuilt the shell of an old car donated by PrISUm, they first hit the American solar car scene at FSGP 2015 (where they failed scrutineering), ASC 2016 (where they came 6th), and FSGP 2017 (where they came a satisfying 2nd). But this year they did become a new team (in the Cruiser class), with their first car built from scratch, ROSE.


AppState’s ROSE (picture credit)

The Cruiser class is, in some ways, a tougher race than the Challenger class, but it’s an easier sell (to sponsors and to the general public). For example, I’m a big fan of Nuon’s beautiful and efficient Nuna 9S (the Stradivarius of solar cars), but you can’t really point to it and say “this is the future of transportation.” It’s far too cramped for that – more like an elegant mathematical proof or a work of art than like a practical vehicle. However, “the future of transportation” would be a feasible label for Cruisers like Eindhoven’s Stella Lux or Bochum’s SunRiser – so it’s not surprising that many solar car teams want to emulate those two pioneers.


The Stradivarius of solar cars, from Dutch champions Nuon, is nevertheless a little cramped (picture credit)

AppState did the right thing by attending ASC 2018, although their car had apparently not even been turned on before the race. Because of electrical problems, they did not manage to drive the entire distance – but they obtained good experience, and they know what to fix now. We can expect to see a greatly improved version of their car at the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Good luck, y’all!

AppState’s multi-stage path to the BWSC is a good model for other intending Cruiser class teams to follow. And with a drag coefficient of 0.17, they have not made the mistake of neglecting aerodynamics – because, in the Cruiser class, efficiency still rules.


New solar car teams #4: ATN

ATN Solar Car Team  (click: ) is a new Australian Cruiser-class solar car team. They are attempting something I have never seen done before – design and construction of a solar car by a team distributed across a continent. According to the initial press release:

I will be very interested to see if they can make this work and which virtual team tools and techniques they will use to do so. So far, ATN Solar Car Team has produced a number of quite different design concepts. The video below shows one of the more interesting ones, and has produced many admiring comments:

Note: Independently of this effort, the experienced Team Arrow will continue as a Cruiser-class team based in Brisbane (also associated with QUT).