World Solar Challenge: about the Cruisers

To illustrate the World Solar Challenge Cruiser-class scoring for 2017, here is the calculation for Kogakuin’s 2015 car (above). Disclaimer: this is, of course, my personal interpretation of the regulations.

Notice that Cruisers are not in a race this year – any arrival time during the 11:00 to 14:00 time window on Friday is OK.

Arrival time

Friday 11:35.
Inside window? YES

Energy efficiency

Battery capacity, Q = 14.855 kWh
Number of recharges, n = 1 (at Alice Springs)
External energy use, U = (n + 1) Q = 29.71
Person-km, C = 3022
Energy efficiency, E = C / U = 101.7
Highest energy efficiency, E* = 203.6 (Eindhoven)
Relative energy efficiency, E / E* = 0.4996


Practicality P = 51.75
Highest practicality, P* = 84.5 (Eindhoven)
Relative practicality, P / P* = 0.6124

Total Score

Total score, S = 80 E / E* + 20 P / P* = 39.97 + 12.25 = 52.22

This is a massively lower score for Kogakuin than was actually awarded in 2015. This year, the World Solar Challenge Cruiser Class is all about energy-efficiency, carrying passengers, and practicality. Expect to see the four-seat and five-seat Cruisers (like the Polish car below) running with every seat occupied.


World Solar Challenge: dark horses

Recently I made a poster of the favourites (based purely on 2015 performance) for the 2017 WSC. Here is a somewhat more subjective list of new, innovative, and rising teams. All worth watching! For more details, see my annotated list of teams.

World Solar Challenge: Challenger dimensions

MostDece has written a superb blog post on the WSC challengers. Based on that, I’ve updated my previous post on dimensions. The infographic above (click to zoom) shows the reported length and width of 16 WSC cars (Challenger class only, this time). The widest car (at 2.05 m) is the South African car from NWU (below), but of course that includes the outrigger wheels. The narrowest is the long narrow bullet car from Michigan. There are also short zippy little cars from Nuon, Principia, and Punch.

Update: The chart below clusters cars with similar length/width combinations. NWU is a visible outlier. Below NWU, we have big cars (ITU, MDH, Adelaide, Aaachen, JU – over 1.6 m wide and at least 4 m long), short catamarans (Nuon, Principia, Punch – 1.55 to 1.6 m wide and at most 3.5 m long), narrow catamarans (Nagoya, Stanford, Twente, WSU – 1.38 to 1.5 m wide and at least 4 m long), and monohulls (Tokai, Kogakuin, Michigan – at most 1.2 m wide and over 4.9 m long):

Update: Unfortunately, the two charts above reflect incorrect information from the Stanford team. The Stanford car is actually substantially wider.

World Solar Challenge head to head: Japan

The World Solar Challenge is an exciting race to find the best solar car in the world. That makes for serious competition between countries. But there are also some interesting contests within countries. The most obvious is between Nuon (3) and Twente (21), who came first and second in the Challenger class last time.

Within Japan, Tokai University (10, Tokai Challenger, above) has a long tradition of excellence in the Challenger class, winning in 2009 and 2011, and coming at least 3rd since then (see chart at top). Their elegant new car is radically different from anything else in the competition, and looks fast.

Kogakuin University (88) raced in the Cruiser class in 2015, with an innovative design that almost won. This year, they have an equally innovative car in the Challenger class (Wing, below). Can Kogakuin take over the leading Challenger role in Japan? Can their car win against the equally streamlined Tokai vehicle? Or will Goko or Nagoya make a dramatic leap upwards from their 14th-place and 16th-place finishes in 2015? Only time will tell.

World Solar Challenge progress

Across the world, solar car teams are beginning to finish their cars for the 2017 World Solar Challenge, the premier world contest in sustainable vehicle technology. Michigan has shipped their famous semi, while MDH and Iowa have revealed their cars (photo memories from MDH Solar Team, Iowa State University, University of Michigan, Bochum, and Kogakuin). Meanwhile, the road from Darwin to Adelaide is waiting.

See here for an updated team list.

World Solar Challenge: Dark Horses

In the World Solar Challenge, there are three new Challenger class teams and two new Cruiser class teams that have fielded very good-looking vehicles. Together with the teams that have an established racing record, these five new teams might be particularly worth keeping an eye on:

9: Adelaide University (  Australia, Lumen)

This new Australian team has a very nice-looking Challenger class car.

18: MARA University of Technology / EcoPhoton (  Malaysia, Stingray)

This new Malaysian team also has an impressive-looking Challenger class car.

23: Kecskemét College Faculty of GAMF (  Hungary, MegaLux)

This Hungarian car is perhaps the pick of the dark horses in the Challenger class, and blogger MostDece thinks it may even have a shot at winning.

45: KGHM Lodz Solar Team (  Poland, Eagle One)

This new Polish team has produced a very nice-looking Cruiser class car.

88: Kogakuin University (  Japan, OWL)

Kogakuin are not new to the WSC, but they are new to the Cruiser class, and they seem to have made a huge leap forward in terms of professionalism this year. Blogger MostDece is actually calling them favourites to win, ahead of the top three teams from 2013.

So there you have it. Five dark horses which may do very well this year. Click on the symbol for detailed team profiles of these five teams, or click on the team social media icons for more information about what they are up to.

WSC: in the news

A few recent news reports on the World Solar Challenge: RTV Oost reports (in Dutch) that Solar Team Twente is in Darwin.

Surabaya News reports (in Indonesian) that the ITS team has completed its 700 km pre-race tour.

Renewable Energy Focus reports (in English) that the Kogakuin University team is (like Australia’s Team Arrow) being sponsored by Clenergy, and that they plan to ship their car to Australia soon.